Trends in intake and sources of caffeine in the diets of US adults: 2001-2010

Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 May;101(5):1081-7. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.080077. Epub 2015 Apr 1.


Background: Coffee and tea are traditional sources of caffeine in the diet, but other sources, such as energy drinks, are now available. Because risks and benefits of caffeine use are dose dependent, the public health consequences of caffeine consumption cannot be determined without data on amounts currently consumed by the US population.

Objective: The objective was to obtain an up-to-date, nationally representative estimate of caffeine consumption in adults.

Design: Dietary intake data from NHANES from 2001 to 2010 for adults ≥19 y of age were used (n = 24,808). Acute and usual intake of caffeine was estimated from all caffeine-containing foods and beverages. Trends in consumption and changes in sources of caffeine were also examined.

Results: Eighty-nine percent of the adult US population consumed caffeine, with equal prevalence in men and women. Usual mean ± SE per capita caffeine consumption when nonusers were included was 186 ± 4 mg/d, with men consuming more than women (211 ± 5 vs. 161 ± 3 mg/d, P < 0.05). Usual intake in consumers was 211 ± 3 mg/d, with 240 ± 4 mg/d in men and 183 ± 3 mg/d in women (P < 0.05); 46% was consumed in a single consumption event. In consumers, acute 90th and 99th percentiles of intake were 436 and 1066 mg/d, respectively. Consumption was highest in men aged 31-50 y and lowest in women aged 19-30 y. Beverages provided 98% of caffeine consumed, with coffee (∼64%), tea (∼16%), and soft drinks (∼18%) predominant sources; energy drinks provided <1%, but their consumption increased substantially from 2001 to 2010.

Conclusions: Although new caffeine-containing products were introduced into the US food supply, total per capita intake was stable over the period examined.

Keywords: NHANES; beverages; coffee; energy drinks; tea; usual intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Beverages / analysis
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Carbonated Beverages / analysis
  • Coffee / chemistry*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Energy Drinks / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Tea / chemistry
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Caffeine