Despite decline in soft drinks, caffeine use common among U.S. youths -
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Despite decline in soft drinks, caffeine use common among U.S. youths

CHICAGO (AP) — Nearly 3 out of 4 American children and young adults consume at least some caffeine, mostly from pop, tea and coffee.

The rate didn't budge much over a decade, although the use of pop declined and energy drinks became an increasingly common source, a government analysis finds.

Though even most preschoolers consume some caffeine-containing products, their average was the amount found in half a can of pop, and overall caffeine intake declined in children up to age 11 during the decade.

The analysis is the first to examine recent national trends in caffeine intake among children and young adults and comes amid a U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into the safety of caffeine-containing foods and drinks, especially for children and teens. The FDA notes that caffeine is found in a variety of foods, gum and even some marshmallows.

The probe is partly in response to reports about hospitalizations and even deaths after consuming highly caffeinated drinks. The drinks have not been proved to be a cause in those cases.

The new analysis, by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that at least through 2010, energy drinks were a growing but still uncommon source of caffeine for most U.S. youths.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against caffeine consumption for children and teens because of potentially harmful effects from the mild stimulant, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, and worsening anxiety in those with anxiety disorders.

The authors analyzed national health surveys from 1999 through 2010 involving a total of 22,000 people from age 2 to 22.

In 2010, 10 percent of daily caffeine came from energy drinks for 19- to 22-year-olds, 2 percent for 17- to 18-year-olds and 3 percent for 12- to 16-year-olds. For younger kids, the amount from energy drinks was minimal.

The average intake in the study was about 60 to 70 milligrams daily, the amount in a 6-ounce cup of coffee, said lead author Amy Branum of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. For the youngest kids it was much less.

Use of energy drinks increased rapidly during the study years.

Pop was the most common source of caffeine for older kids and teens. For those up to age 5, it was the second most common after tea. Pop intake declined for all ages as many schools stopped selling it.

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Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

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