Title

Caffeine Intake among Youth: Is it a Cause for Concern?

Location

Harborside Center

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Family & Community

Relevance

This proposal is directly relevant to strands IV and V, which respectively relate to promotion of physical health and the enhancement of community and parental support for youth. Caffeine can be consumed in a variety of forms, and when intake reaches extremely high levels, it can have a direct negative impact on physical health. This can be combatted through intervention regarding caffeinated drinks at a young age- through school-wide programs and simple lifestyle changes at home. Learning about the adverse health effects of too much caffeine consumption can greatly benefit youth in the long run.

Brief Program Description

Available in a plethora of forms, caffeine when consumed beyond the recommended level can lead to jitteriness, insomnia, and even obesity. In today’s world, there are more caffeinated options available and easily accessible to youth. Children and young adults must thus be properly educated on the dangers associated with caffeine intake. Parents and schools should help children recognize products with excess caffeine and limit consumption.

Summary

Caffeine is a psychoactive drug found in many commonly consumed items, such as sodas, tea, coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks. Although not stored long-term in the body, it can cause lingering effects such as insomnia, jitteriness, weight gain, and cardiovascular consequences. While caffeine was at one time primarily for adults, in recent years it has become more regularly consumed by youth. Excessive amounts of caffeine are particularly dangerous for younger children, who have lower body weights and thus can become more affected.

Caffeine has been deemed a “safe” product by the FDA, but very little research has been conducted on its’ effects in children and there have yet to be standard guidelines established in the U.S. for a recommended safe level. Approximately half of energy drink marketing is targeted towards children and young adults, so those in this age group especially need to be encouraged to limit caffeine consumption. In a recent study conducted on children aged 8-9 and 15-17, caffeine was found to lower blood pressure and heart rate. Additionally, caffeinated products often have a lot of additional sugars, which are a major contributor of obesity. Unfortunately, young people do not realize the consequences of consuming such drinks - as shown in a recent CDC study.

Lack of knowledge regarding caffeine products contributes to poor health in children, who often cannot identify products that contain caffeine and specific amounts. Thus, common caffeinated products, particularly those sold in schools, should be detailed and discussed with students. At home, parents should try not to purchase or keep caffeinated products so that children do not develop a taste and become reliant on such drinks for energy.

Evidence

Previous research has provided overwhelming evidence of the dangers of caffeine consumption and the need for educating youth. In a study on 555 middle-school students, it was found that 29% did not know that their favorite drinks contained caffeine, while 50% were unable to pinpoint which drinks contained caffeine. Another study on 191 students showed that those who consumed greater levels of caffeine had shorter sleep durations as well as increased sleep during the daytime. In a recent publication, the overall trends of caffeine intake were assessed for the years 1999 to 2010. It was found that 73% of children had consumed caffeine daily, and coffee and energy drinks have become increasingly popular sources of caffeine. Soda remained the most consumed caffeine source throughout the 11 years.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

  1. Supriya Immaneni will graduate in June 2015 from Northwestern University in the seven-year BS/MD Honors Program of Medical Education. She has majored in Psychology, and will attend Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL in the fall.

Dr. Padmini Shankar, PhD, RD., is a Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at Georgia Southern University and a registered dietitian.

Keyword Descriptors

caffeine, sugar, energy drinks, consumption

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-8-2016 4:00 PM

End Date

3-8-2016 5:30 PM

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Mar 8th, 4:00 PM Mar 8th, 5:30 PM

Caffeine Intake among Youth: Is it a Cause for Concern?

Harborside Center

Available in a plethora of forms, caffeine when consumed beyond the recommended level can lead to jitteriness, insomnia, and even obesity. In today’s world, there are more caffeinated options available and easily accessible to youth. Children and young adults must thus be properly educated on the dangers associated with caffeine intake. Parents and schools should help children recognize products with excess caffeine and limit consumption.