Physicians and policy makers are increasingly interested in caffeine intake among children and adolescents in the advent of increasing energy drink sales. However, there have been no recent descriptions of caffeine or energy drink intake in the United States. We aimed to describe trends in caffeine intake over the past decade among US children and adolescents.
We 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 NHANES. In addition, we described the proportion of caffeine consumption attributable to different beverages, including soda, energy drinks, and tea.
Approximately 73% of children consumed caffeine on a given day. From 1999 to 2010, there were no significant trends in mean caffeine intake overall; however, caffeine intake decreased among 2- to 11-year-olds (P < .01) and Mexican-American children (P = .003). Soda accounted for the majority of caffeine intake, but this contribution declined from 62% to 38% (P < .001). Coffee accounted for 10% of caffeine intake in 1999–2000 but increased to nearly 24% of intake in 2009–2010 (P < .001). Energy drinks did not exist in 1999–2000 but increased to nearly 6% of caffeine intake in 2009–2010.
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. These findings provide a baseline for caffeine intake among US children and young adults during a period of increasing energy drink use.