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Drop in Soda Drinking Doesn't Lead to Drop in Youth Caffeine Consumption

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Levels of caffeine consumption by children and teens have remained stable in recent years, but the sources of caffeine are growing more varied as more young people turn to energy drinks and other alternatives, a study published Monday in Pediatrics found.

The authors of "Trends in Caffeine Intake Among U.S. Children and Adolescents" reviewed 1999-2010 results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that 73 percent of respondents, ages 2-22, consumed caffeine on a given day. While caffeine intake remained relatively stable during the period studied, soda made up a smaller share over time as energy drink consumption increased, the study found.

"Soda accounted for the majority of caffeine intake, but this contribution declined from 62 percent to 38 percent (P< .001). Coffee accounted for 10 percent of caffeine intake in 1999-2000 but increased to nearly 24 percent of intake in 2009-2010 (P < .001). Energy drinks did not exist in 1999-2000 but increased to nearly 6 percent of caffeine intake in 2009-2010."

The findings come after most schools around the country removed soda machines from their hallways, unplugged them during the school day, and replaced their contents with healthier alternatives to soda. But what kids drink outside of the school day may still be a problem.

Much of the drive to push pop out of schools has focused on reducing sugar intake for students, but pediatricians also maintain that "caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents."

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