With concerns about the safety of caffeine and energy drinks being a popular point of discussion, researchers sought to evaluate if caffeine consumption correlated with the increased sale of energy drinks, as is often suggested by physicians and policy makers.
The study assessed trends and demographic differences in mean caffeine intake among children and adolescents by using the 24-hour dietary recall data from the 1999–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). In addition, the study described the proportion of caffeine consumption attributable to different beverages, including soda, energy drinks and tea.
Upon assessment of the data, researchers found that about 73% of children consumed caffeine on a given day. However, from 1999 to 2010, there were no significant trends in mean caffeine intake overall, with caffeine intake decreasing among 2- to 11-year-olds 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.
The study concluded that mean caffeine intake has not increased among children and adolescents in recent years, but that coffee and energy drinks represent a greater proportion of caffeine intake. Soda intake has significantly declined. According to researchers, these findings provide a baseline for caffeine intake among U.S. children and young adults during a period of increasing energy drink use.