Coffee, Energy Drinks Common Caffeine Sources For Adolescents
February 10, 2014

Coffee, Energy Drinks Common Caffeine Sources For Adolescents

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, about 73 percent of American children consume caffeine on any given day.

While the study did not find that the amount of caffeine consumed by children has increased from 1999 to 2010, it did find kids are getting more of their caffeine from coffee and energy drinks and less from soda.

Based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the study also said most preschoolers consume some caffeine-containing products. However, their average intake was the quantity present in half a can of soda, and total caffeine intake decreased in children up to age 11 during the decade-long study period.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against caffeine usage for children and teens as the stimulant can increase both heart rate and blood pressure. It can also increase symptoms in those with anxiety disorders.

The new study included information on 22,000 individuals from ages 2 to 22. The participants or their parents answered questions regarding the things they ate or drank the day before, a typical diet-evaluation method.

The researchers found that in 2010, 10 percent of daily caffeine came from energy drinks for young adults; 2 percent for 17- to 18-year-olds, and 3 percent for 12- to 16-year-olds. Children even younger consumed very few or no energy drinks during the study.

Although they didn’t comprise a major percentage of the kids’ caffeine intake, energy drinks rapidly rose in popularity as the study progressed, representing 6 percent of total caffeine intake in 2009-2010.

Study author Amy Branum, a health statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics, told USA Today that energy drinks' contribution to children’s caffeine intake represented "quite a difference in a relatively short amount of time.”

The new study comes as the Food and Drug Administration is starting an investigation into the safety of caffeine-containing foods and drinks, particularly for children and teens. In an online statement about the investigation, the FDA said that caffeine is found in a variety of foods, gum and even some jelly beans and marshmallows.

“The gum is just one more unfortunate example of the trend to add caffeine to food,” said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA, in a recent statement on the FDA website. “Our concern is about caffeine appearing in a range of new products, including ones that may be attractive and readily available to children and adolescents, without careful consideration of their cumulative impact.”

The probe was spurred by reports about hospitalizations and several deaths following the consumption of highly caffeinated drinks or energy shots. The drinks were not shown to be a cause in those fatal cases.

“We have to address the fundamental question of the potential consequences of all these caffeinated products in the food supply to children and to some adults who may be at risk from excess caffeine consumption,” Taylor said. “We need to better understand caffeine consumption and use patterns and determine what is a safe level for total consumption of caffeine. Importantly, we need to address the types of products that are appropriate for the addition of caffeine, especially considering the potential for consumption by young children and adolescents.”