A recent study has reported that although “mean caffeine intake has not increased among children and adolescents in recent years,”“coffee and energy drinks represent a greater proportion of caffeine intake as soda intake has declined.” Amy Branum, et al., “Trends in Caffeine Intake Among U.S. Children and Adolescents,” Pediatrics, February 2014. Using 24-hour dietary recall data obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999- 2010, researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 73 percent of children consumed caffeine on a given day, with soda accounting for the majority of caffeine intake throughout the study period.
“However, the proportion of intake attributable to soda declined from 62% in 1999-2000 to 38% in 2009-2010,” said the study’s authors. “Coffee accounted for only 10% of caffeine intake in 1999-2000, but increased significantly to nearly 24% of caffeine intake in 2009-2010… Energy drinks did not exist
as a category in 1999-2010, but represented nearly 6% of caffeine intake in 2009-2010.” In addition, tea has purportedly remained “the second largest contributor to overall caffeine intake” among youth over the past 10 years.
Based on these results, the study ultimately questions whether recent measures to reduce soda and juice consumption will cause children and adolescents to view coffee or energy drinks as alternatives. “On average, a 12-oz serving of energy drink contains 36 g of sugar and ~160 calories, nearly the same as a 12-oz can of soda,” conclude the authors. “However, the amount of caffeine in energy drinks varies between brands and can be as high as130 mg in a 12-oz serving, equivalent to four 12-oz servings of caffeinated sodas… Future research should continue to monitor trends in energy drink and coffee consumption among youth, as well as determine the potential impact of these beverages on health outcomes.”