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Energy drink consumption on the rise among teens and children

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Energy drink consumption among teens and children has attracted significant interest from healthcare researchers. For example, last November, a study reported on the dangerous consumption of energy drinks and alcohol among teens. A new study has evaluated trends in caffeine intake among teens and children. The findings were published on February 10 in the journal Pediatrics by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The researchers note that with the increase in the sales of energy drinks, healthcare policy makers and physicians have become increasingly interested in caffeine consumption among teens and children. However, despite this increased interest, there have been no recent evaluations of caffeine or energy drink intake in the United States. Therefore, they conducted a study to evaluate the trends in caffeine intake over the past decade among US children and teens.

Using data from the 24-hour dietary recall data from the 1999–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the investigators evaluated trends and demographic differences in average caffeine intake among children and adolescents. They also described the proportion of caffeine consumption attributable to different beverages, including energy drinks, soft drinks, and tea.

The researchers found that approximately 73% of children consumed caffeine on any given day. From 1999 through 2010, there were no significant trends in the overall average consumption of caffeine; however, caffeine intake decreased among 2- to 11-year-olds and Mexican-American youths. Soft drinks accounted for the majority of caffeine intake; however, this contribution dropped from 62% to 38%. Coffee accounted for 10% of caffeine intake in 1999–2000; however, coffee increased to almost 24% of consumption in 2009–2010. In 1999-2000, energy drinks did not exist but reached almost 6% of caffeine consumption in 2009–2010.

The authors concluded that average caffeine intake has not increased among teens and children in recent years. However, coffee and energy drinks currently denote a greater proportion of caffeine intake as soda consumption has declined. They note that their findings should provide a baseline for caffeine intake among US children and young adults during a period of increasing energy drink use.