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Energy drink consumption and impact on caffeine risk


The impact of caffeine from energy drinks occurs against a background exposure from naturally occurring caffeine (coffee, tea, cocoa and foods containing these ingredients) and caffeinated beverages (kola-type soft drinks). Background caffeine exposure, excluding energy drinks, was assessed for six New Zealand population groups aged 15 years and over (n = 4503) by combining concentration data for 53 caffeine-containing foods with consumption information from the 2008/09 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey (ANS). Caffeine exposure for those who consumed energy drinks (n = 138) was similarly assessed, with inclusion of energy drinks. Forty-seven energy drink products were identified on the New Zealand market in 2010. Product volumes ranged from 30 to 600 ml per unit, resulting in exposures of 10–300 mg caffeine per retail unit consumed. A small percentage, 3.1%, of New Zealanders reported consuming energy drinks, with most energy drink consumers (110/138) drinking one serving per 24 h. The maximum number of energy drinks consumed per 24 h was 14 (total caffeine of 390 mg). A high degree of brand loyalty was evident. Since only a minor proportion of New Zealanders reported consuming energy drinks, a greater number of New Zealanders exceeded a potentially adverse effect level (AEL) of 3 mg kg−1 bw day−1 for caffeine from caffeine-containing foods than from energy drinks. Energy drink consumption is not a risk at a population level because of the low prevalence of consumption. At an individual level, however, teenagers, adults (20–64 years) and females (16–44 years) were more likely to exceed the AEL by consuming energy drinks in combination with caffeine-containing foods.

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