Increased Education Could Help Adolescents Limit Caffeine Consumption

Negative outcomes of caffeine consumption could be curbed with more instruction, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Philadelphia, PA, March 8, 2016

Caffeine is the most available and widely used psychoactive substance in the world and is the only drug legally accessible and socially acceptable for consumption by children and adolescents. Some studies have shown that adolescents are the fastest-growing population of caffeine users, with 83.2% consuming caffeinated beverages regularly and at least 96% consuming them occasionally. With this in mind, researchers from Brescia University College developed a study to determine attitudes and beliefs as well as factors influencing caffeinated beverage consumption among adolescents.

In a study of 166 youth (42% male and 72% in grades 9 and 10), researchers found that nearly half (44.6%) of the respondents drank caffeinated beverages one to six times per week. Only 4.8% of those surveyed never consumed drinks containing caffeine, but 11.4% had a caffeinated beverage daily. One of the most commonly cited reasons for choosing a caffeinated drink was the perceived alertness the drink would offer, which students believed would help them study. The number of adolescents aware of the negative health effects of consumption was generally high, which led researchers to conclude that further education could lead to better decision-making regarding caffeine intake.

“By developing more comprehensive educational strategies and enhancing policies, it may be possible to decrease caffeine use in adolescents and mitigate the potential health risks,” senior author Danielle S. Battram, PhD, RD, said.

These findings were developed from responses from 20 focus groups utilizing short, unambiguous, open-ended questions, as well as a questionnaire. In their responses, adolescents also indicated they perceived drinking caffeinated beverages as a sign of being grown up, and the lack of barriers and easy access to those beverages also influenced how often they would drink those beverages. Parental role modeling, media and advertising, and social norms were also noted as factors contributing to intake among adolescents.

“Caffeine overconsumption and caffeine intoxication have serious health effects, even in moderate doses. With that in mind, we need to correct the misconceptions adolescents have regarding certain aspects of caffeine,” Battram added.

Creating specific education strategies to curb caffeine intake was identified as an important next step. Moving forward, the authors suggested finding relatable and understandable ways to make the recommended daily intake amounts memorable and offering alternatives to caffeine to increase energy, including eating a healthy diet and getting adequate sleep.

---

Notes for editors
“Adolescent Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding Caffeine and the Consumption of Caffeinated Beverages,” by Paige Turton, MScFN, RD; Len Piché, PhD, RD; Danielle S. Battram, PhD, RD (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2015.12.004), Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 48, Issue 3 (March 2016), published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628or jnebmedia@elsevier.com to obtain copies. To schedule an interview with the authors, please Danielle Battram, PhD, RD, Associate Professor, Division of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Brescia University College, London, Ontario, Canada, at +1 519 432 8353 x28228 or dbattra@uwo.ca.

An audio podcast featuring an interview with Danielle Battram, PhD, RD, and information specifically for journalists are located at www.jneb.org/content/podcast. Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media; contact Eileen Leahy to obtain permission.

About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the society’s efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policy makers, targeted audiences, and the public.

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey— and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com

Media contact
Eileen Leahy
Elsevier
+1 732 238 3628
jnebmedia@elsevier.com