Children’s caffeine intake steady from 1999 to 2010

A study published in Pediatrics shows that overall caffeine intake did not increase among kids and teens between 1999 and 2010, but coffee and energy drinks became increasingly significant contributors while soda intake declined.

February 10, 2014

A study published in Pediatrics shows that overall caffeine intake did not increase among kids and teens between 1999 and 2010, but coffee and energy drinks became increasingly significant contributors while soda intake declined.

The researchers assessed trends and demographic differences in mean caffeine intake among children and adolescents by using the 24-hr dietary recall data from the 1999–2010 NHANES. In addition, they described the proportion of caffeine consumption attributable to different beverages, including soda, energy drinks, and tea.

The researchers found that 73% of people ages 2–22 consumed at least some caffeine on a given day, including 63% of children ages 2–5. From 1999 to 2010, there were no significant trends in mean caffeine intake overall; however, caffeine intake decreased among kids ages 2–11 and Mexican-American children.

Soda accounted for the majority of caffeine intake, but this contribution declined from 62% to 38%. Coffee accounted for 10% of caffeine intake in 1999–2000 but increased to nearly 24% of intake in 2009–2010. Energy drinks did not exist in 1999–2000 but increased to nearly 6% of caffeine intake in 2009–2010. Among kids ages 2–5, tea overtook soda as the largest contributor to caffeine intake in 2009–2010. Tea, in fact, was the second largest contributor to overall caffeine intake for all ages and remained relatively stable over the decade. Among those ages 19–22, coffee edged out soda as the primary source of caffeine, growing from 14% of intake to 34%.

The researchers concluded that mean caffeine intake has not increased among children and adolescents in recent years. “However, coffee and energy drinks represent a greater proportion of caffeine intake as soda intake has declined,” wrote the researchers. “These findings provide a baseline for caffeine intake among U.S. children and young adults during a period of increasing energy drink use.”

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