There appears to have been a significant shift over the past decade in what young people are choosing as their “drink of choice” when it comes to caffeinated beverages. While it’s safe to say that soda (or “Pop,” for those of us from the Upper Midwest) won’t become extinct on grocery shelves any time soon, there clearly appears to be a trend among young people towards energy drinks and the flavored coffees offered by Starbucks and any number of smaller coffee houses.
It doesn’t appear, however, that this apparent shift in what young people are drinking is resulting in any widespread increase (or decrease, for that matter) in caffeine intake.
That’s the bottom line of an article in the March edition of Pediatrics, “Trends in Caffeine Intake Among US Children and Adolescents,” authored by Amy M. Branum, Lauren M. Rossen, and Kenneth Schoendorf of the National Center for Health Statistics.
Branum et al set out to describe trends in caffeine intake over the past decade among US children, adolescents and young adults, using 24-hour dietary recall data from the 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The authors also looked at the proportion of caffeine consumption attributable to different beverages, including soda, energy drinks, and tea.
What they discovered was that approximately 73% of children and adolescents consumed caffeine on a given day. From 1999 to 2010, there were no significant trends in average caffeine intake overall; however, caffeine intake did decrease among 2- to 11-year-olds and among Mexican-American Children. Soda accounted for the majority of caffeine intake, but this contribution declined sharply from 62% to 38% over this period. Coffee accounted for 10% of caffeine intake in 1999-2000 but more than doubled to nearly 24% of intake in 2009-2010.
Though energy drinks did not exist in 1999-2000, they accounted for nearly 6% of caffeine intake in 2009-2010.
As new data roll in, nutritionists and public health experts will be watching closely to see if these new trends have any impact on overall caffeine intake among American youth.