Sources of Caffeine in Diets of US Children and Adults: Trends by Beverage Type and Purchase Location

Nutrients. 2016 Mar 10;8(3):154. doi: 10.3390/nu8030154.


New sources of caffeine, besides coffee and tea, have been introduced into the US food supply. Data on caffeine consumption age and purchase location can help guide public health policy. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) were used to estimate population-level caffeine intakes, using data from 24-h dietary recall. First, caffeine intakes by age-group and beverage type were estimated using the most recent 2011-2012 data (n = 7456). Second, fourteen years trends in caffeine consumption, overall and by beverage type, were evaluated for adults and children. Trend analyses were conducted by age groups. Last, trends in caffeine intakes by purchase location and beverage type were estimated. In 2011-2012, children aged four to eight years consumed the least caffeine (15 mg/day), and adults aged 51-70 years consumed the most (213 mg/day). The population mean (age ≥ four years) was 135 mg/day, driven largely by coffee (90 mg/day), tea (25 mg/day), and soda (21 mg/day). For the 14-19 years and 20-34 years age-groups, energy drinks contributed 6 mg/day (9.9%) and 5 mg/day (4.5%), respectively. The bulk of caffeine came from store-bought coffee and tea. Among both children and adults combined, caffeine intakes declined from 175 mg/day (1999-2000) to 142 mg/day (2011-2012), largely driven by a drop in caffeine from soda (41 mg/day to 21 mg/day). Store-bought coffee and tea remain principal drivers of caffeine intake in the US. Sodas and energy drinks make minor contributions to overall caffeine intakes.

Keywords: NHANES; beverages; caffeine; children; trends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Beverages* / statistics & numerical data
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Carbonated Beverages / statistics & numerical data
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coffee
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data
  • Commerce / trends*
  • Diet*
  • Energy Drinks / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Tea
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Caffeine