So long, soda…

So long, soda: kids getting caffeine kicks from coffee, energy drinks

About three-quarters of U.S. kids and young adults consume products containing caffeine. Their main source: soda.

But in recent years, kids have been dropping their soda cans and bottles in favor of coffee cups and energy drinks, according to a study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) journal Pediatrics.

The switch isn’t a healthy one, the study suggested. Energy drinks can contain four times the caffeine of equivalent amounts of soda, the authors wrote. And coffee drinks can have twice as many calories, depending on their size and flavorings.

About the study

Researchers used data from national surveys done between 1999 and 2010. Information was gathered during in-person interviews with children and young adults ages 2 to 22 years. The younger children answered questions with help from caregivers. The questions focused on what foods and beverages the people had consumed during a 24-hour period.

For this study, researchers looked at answers that included caffeinated products, such as coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks, as well as chocolate-flavored products like milk, cake and candy.

The data showed that nearly 75 percent of those surveyed consumed caffeine every day. That number remained relatively constant over the course of the study.

What did change over time was the source of caffeine. For example:

  • In 1999, soft drinks accounted for 62 percent of caffeine intake among those surveyed. By 2010, that number had dropped to 38 percent.
  • In 1999, coffee accounted for 10 percent of young people’s caffeine intake. In 2010, it more than doubled to nearly 24 percent.
  • Energy drinks did not exist in 1999, but made up nearly 6 percent of young people’s caffeine intake by 2010.

 

The take-home message
The effect of caffeine on young people’s health isn’t clear. However, the AAP’s position is that “stimulant-containing energy drinks have no place in the diets of children and adolescents.”

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