New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that although overall caffeine intake has not increased among children and adolescents in recent years, more children are consuming caffeine from diverse sources, including coffee and energy drinks.
The research team, including Amy M. Branum of the Division of Vital Statistics and Reproductive Statistics Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently published the study findings in the journal Pediatrics.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an average US adult consumes approximately 300 mg of caffeine each day - the equivalent to between two and four cups of coffee.
This is considered to be a moderate caffeine intake, and the FDA state that for healthy adults, up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is a level that is not generally associated with negative side effects.
But what is considered an acceptable caffeine intake for children?
As yet, the FDA has not set caffeine recommendations for children and adolescents. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend against the inclusion of caffeine in a child's diet.
Despite this recommendation, the new study reveals that around 73% of children and adolescents consume caffeine on a daily basis.
To reach their findings, the investigators analyzed caffeine intake among 22,000 US children and adolescents aged between 2 and 22 years using 24-hour dietary recall data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2010 (NHANES).
The researchers also determined the proportion of caffeine that was attributable to a variety of drinks, including soda, coffee, energy drinks and tea.
Coffee and energy drink consumption in children and teens 'a concern'
The team found that overall caffeine intake decreased among children between 2 and 11 years between 1999 and 2010.
Soda remained the main source of caffeine between 1999 and 2010, but this contribution reduced from 62% to 38%.
New research found that coffee accounted for almost 24% of caffeine intake for children and adolescents between 2009-10, compared with 10% in 1999-2000.
It seems more children and adolescents are consuming caffeine from alternative beverages.
In 1999-2000, coffee accounted for around 10% of caffeine intake. However, this increased to almost 24% in 2009-10. Although energy drinks did not appear in 1999-2000, the beverage made up almost 6% of caffeine intake in 2009-10.
The AAP state that these findings raise concern regarding the role of energy drinks and coffee as significant contributors to caffeine intake among children and adolescents.
The FDA have also voiced concerns surrounding caffeine consumption among children and adolescents.
Last year, the body announced it is to undergo an investigation into products that contain added caffeine, particularly products aimed at children and adolescents, such as jelly beans and gum.
At the time of announcement, Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the FDA, said:
"We're particularly concerned about children and adolescents, and the responsibility [the] FDA and the food industry have to protect public health and respect social norms that suggest we shouldn't be marketing stimulants, such as caffeine, to our children."
The researchers of this most recent study say their findings provide a baseline for caffeine intake among US children and young adults, and note that further research is warranted to monitor trends in this area.
Medical News Today recently compiled an in-depth analysis that looked at how caffeine intake can affect our health.
Written by Honor Whiteman