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Risk assessment of caffeine among children and adolescents in the Nordic countries

image of Risk assessment of caffeine among children and adolescents in the Nordic countries

The first part of the report has its main focus on a hazard identification and characterisation of caffeine, with special emphasis on the effects on the central nervous system. Furthermore, there is a review of epidemiological and clinical studies on caffeine in children and adolescents. The Project Group identified exposures to caffeine associated with tolerance development with withdrawal symptoms and anxiety and jitteriness in children and adolescents. The second part of the report gives an overview of caffeine intakes among children and adolescents in the Nordic countries. Because access to detailed data varied among the Nordic countries, the main focus is on intake of soft drinks. Caffeine-containing soft drinks are the main source of caffeine in children and adolescents. In the risk characterisation part the Project Group compared current intakes of caffeine with exposure associated with adverse/unwanted effects. Many Nordic teenagers have an intake of caffeine that can be associated with tolerance development and withdrawal symptoms, while approximately 20 % of the teenagers might be exposed to levels of caffeine inducing anxiety and jitteriness. Including other sources of caffeine such as chocolate, tea and coffee, these figures might be higher. There are large inter-individual differences in tolerance development and some reports indicate that a substantial fraction of teenagers might have a problem with controlling their caffeine intake.

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Intake of caffeine among children and adolescents in the Nordic countries

This chapter presents an overview of the consumption of caffeinecontaining foods and beverages among children and adolescents in the Nordic countries. In order to estimate the dietary intake of caffeine, the caffeine concentration of the relevant foods and beverages must be known. The caffeine exposure is then estimated through multiplication of consumption with the concentrations of caffeine in the various foods and beverages. In toxicology and risk assessments, the usual way to estimate risk includes providing exposures of a substance per kg body weight. Accordingly, we have made tables where the total caffeine exposure in the various age-groups and exposure levels has been transformed to exposure per kg. This enables us to compare Nordic exposure levels more directly with exposures provided in international literature. The final recommendations in this report will also be based on what seems to be a safe exposure level per kg body weight. When comparing exposure levels in the different Nordic countries, focus has been on soft drinks, since this is where we had the best data and futhermore, this is the main source of caffeine for youngsters.

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