Janie Ginsberg
Life Reporter

For most students, a hot cup of coffee – or several — is part of a daily energy boost routine.

The thought of health concerns? Out of sight, out of mind.

Young adults are getting nearly double the amount of caffeine from coffee than they were 10 years ago, according to a new report in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The study assessed trends of caffeine intake among 2 to 22-year-olds using 24-hour dietary recall data from the 1999 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the United States.

One day of dietary recall is exposed to random error, but these errors are likely to cancel each other out when the entire population is considered, the study authors wrote.

Approximately 75 per cent of young adults consumed caffeine on a given day, according to the study. Gone are the days where soda was the caffeine culprit – coffee culture has taken over.

The caffeine intake in total among youth has not increased, but coffee and energy drinks now take up a larger proportion of caffeine consumption, the study said.

Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant drug in the world and a lot of young people succumb to social pressures when it comes to energy drinks, thinking it makes them smarter and more awake, said Dr. Martin Dobkin, a Missassauga family doctor.

“What is happening is that a lot of young people studying for exams are consuming multiple cans of these energy drinks and it can lead to brain damage and cardiac damage,” he said.

Adolescents are recommended not to exceed 100 mg of caffeine a day, and nobody should ever have more than 500 mg a day, said Dobkin.

Energy drinks have from 180 to 200 mg of caffeine depending on brand and a Starbucks latte has 150 mg, said the Journal of Pediatrics study.

Abi Berkley, 23-year-old Humber Advertising Account Management student, drinks a cup of coffee per day on average. On a regular day that is.

“When school is crazy or work would be crazy then that’s when two to three cups a day starts happening,” Berkley said.

There are other options to stay awake and alert, said Norwel Rigor, a registered nurse at Toronto General Hospital in the Cardiovascular Surgery Unit.

“I think just finding a healthy diet to keep you awake…definitely having a good breakfast in the morning will keep you going through the rest of the day,” he said.

Dobkin said young people do not even need the extra energy. Bad sleep and study habits often cause students to feel the need for that extra morning boost.

His advice is, “exercise, regular sleep and don’t stay up all night studying.”