Most children already have boundless energy.

But today's kids are different from those of previous generations, for several reasons.

First, many of them have already been placed on what I call the high-carb Torture Chamber Diet, robbing them of some of that natural energy.

Secondly, many of them are already hooked on caffeine. And recent studies show us that this is one substance they shouldn't be near at that age.

One study found that kids who have too much caffeine are staying up well into the night, when their growing bodies should be at rest.

Most kids need at least nine hours of sleep per night, but too many of them aren't getting that. Instead, the study found that they're sending text messages, playing video games and surfing the Internet.

The study, published in the June 2009 issue of Pediatrics, found these kids – even those who consume caffeinated beverages – are also more likely to nod off during the day.

The researchers looked at 100 children 12-18 years old, and found that a third of them dozed off in school an average of twice a day, while some conked out up to eight times a day. Half of the kids with driver's licenses said they felt drowsy behind the wheel.

Meanwhile, another study shows what can happen to kids who get too much caffeine.

Researchers in Italy looked at the case of a 13-year-old boy who was admitted to a hospital after chewing two packs of a caffeinated gum. The total caffeine in the gum wasn't too much by adult standards: roughly equal to three cups of coffee.

But the boy – who had no illicit drugs in his system, by the way – grew agitated and aggressive, which was not normal for him. His heartbeat and breathing rapidly increased, and his blood pressure rose.

The case study, published in the May 30 issue of The Lancet, shows what can happen when someone with no caffeine tolerance – like a child – consumes the stuff.

I've got nothing against a couple cups of coffee or tea for most adults.

But kids shouldn't be near this stuff, especially since they tend to get their caffeine from sugar-laden sodas and energy drinks.

This is the beginning of a lifetime of unhealthy habits and poor sleeping patterns.

I know it's not easy to control what your teen eats and drinks, but it's important to know how these things might be impacting their body.

Banning soda and energy drinks might not be the most popular move in your home – but it's the right one.