Caffeine intake in children in the United States and 10-y trends: 2001-2010

Namanjeet Ahluwalia, Kirsten Herrick, Alanna Moshfegh, Michael Rybak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Because of the increasing concern of the potential adverse effects of caffeine intake in children, recent estimates of caffeine consumption in a representative sample of children are needed.

Objectives: We provide estimates of caffeine intake in children in absolute amounts (mg) and in relation to body weight (mg/kg) to examine the association of caffeine consumption with sociodemographic factors and describe trends in caffeine intake in children in the United States.

Design: We analyzed caffeine intake in 3280 children aged 2-19 y who participated in a 24-h dietary recall as part of the NHANES, which is a nationally representative survey of the US population with a cross-sectional design, in 2009-2010. Trends over time between 2001 and 2010 were examined in 2-19-y-old children (n = 18,530). Analyses were conducted for all children and repeated for caffeine consumers.

Results: In 2009-2010, 71% of US children consumed caffeine on a given day. Median caffeine intakes for 2-5-, 6-11-, and 12-19-y olds were 1.3, 4.5, and 13.6 mg, respectively, and 4.7, 9.1, and 40.6 mg, respectively, in caffeine consumers. Non-Hispanic black children had lower caffeine intake than that of non-Hispanic white counterparts. Caffeine intake correlated positively with age; this association was independent of body weight. On a given day, 10% of 12-19-y-olds exceeded the suggested maximum caffeine intake of 2.5 mg/kg by Health Canada. A significant linear trend of decline in caffeine intake (in mg or mg/kg) was noted overall for children aged 2-19 y during 2001-2010. Specifically, caffeine intake declined by 3.0 and 4.6 mg in 2-5- and 6-11-y-old caffeine consumers, respectively; no change was noted in 12-19-y-olds.

Conclusion: A majority of US children including preschoolers consumed caffeine. Caffeine intake was highest in 12-19-y-olds and remained stable over the 10-y study period in this age group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1124-1132
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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