Study: Kids and caffeine--Same amount, different products

Hazard, Ky. (WYMT)-- Children and teens continued to drink about the same amount of caffeine in recent years as they did about ten years ago, but what they drink changed.

About 73 percent of teens and children consumed caffeine in some form. That number remained largely unchanged during the roughly decade-long period, according to a study from the journal Pediatrics.

Kids drank fewer soft drinks, but more energy drinks and coffee. Energy drinks did not exist during the first part of the study, the study's abstract noted.

Daniel Conrad drank "probably a 12-pack every couple of days," he said.

He now drinks water and an occasional energy drink, he said.

Caffeine has been safely added to enhance flavor for more than a century, the American Beverage Association said.

The energy drinks that are rising in popularity could not have a benefit for some young people who use them, said Reneé Neace of the Kentucky River District Health Department.

"Sometimes your athlete will think if they drink an energy drink prior to a game, that that will give them more energy, and it's really not going to do that, it actually can cause an athlete to become dehydrated during the game," she said.

Fewer two- to eleven-year-olds consumed caffeine, the study found.

Schools are also reducing opportunities for students to get a caffeine buzz, Neace said.

Drinking caffeine can also result in a nutritional trade-off, she said.

"When they're getting high amounts of caffeine, they're actually decreasing the amount of milk or orange juice, and therefore not getting the proper nutrients they need."

It is a substitution Conrad made because of taste, drinking soft drinks, "instead of eating," he said.

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