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Caffeine consumption by upper secondary school students - new report by the Risk Assessment Committee

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Ásta Heiðrún E. Pétursdóttir

Head of Public Health and Food Safety

asta.h.petursdottir@matis.is

At the request of the Food Administration, the Risk Assessment Committee in the field of food, feed, fertilizers and seeds has investigated whether the consumption of energy drinks containing caffeine has a negative effect on the health of young people in upper secondary schools.

The report shows that the importance of energy drinks in the total caffeine consumption of Icelandic young people is greater than has been seen in comparable foreign studies. More than half of high school students consume energy drinks once a week or more and 10-20% high school students drink energy drinks daily. Students who consume energy drinks are about six times more likely to exceed the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) thresholds for the amount of caffeine that affects sleep and the caffeine safety limits for the cardiovascular system compared to those students who do not consume energy drinks.

The committee's conclusions indicate that there is reason to restrict upper secondary school students' access to energy drinks, as the supply, accessibility and marketing of energy drinks seem to result in the consumption of Icelandic upper secondary school students being higher than desirable.

The Risk Assessment Committee issued a similar report a year ago which covers the consumption of young people in 8.-10. grade on energy drinks. The results show that the proportion of students who consume energy drinks twice a week or more often increases with age, with about one in ten eighth-graders consuming energy drinks more than twice a week than every other high school student aged 18-20. It is interesting to note that younger young people are more likely to receive energy drinks as a gift in connection with sports and group work (40-70%) than older young people (10%). Recently, the media have covered the report of the Risk Assessment Committee from 2020 on the one hand here: It is common for children to receive energy drinks free of charge and on the other hand here: Swallow twelve times the amount of caffeine and experience discomfort.

The report has been covered in the news recently, but Rúv's coverage can be found here: Icelandic young people crave energy drinks like never before and Vísir's coverage here: Children have to go to the emergency room after consuming energy drinks

Ásta Heiðrún E. Pétursdóttir, division manager at Matís, is the chairman of the risk assessment committee.

Further information and the main results can be found in the news agency Matvælastofnun here: High school students' high consumption of energy drinks gives reason to limit access.

The full report can be accessed here: Report on health risks due to Icelandic young people's consumption of caffeine in beverages in beverages in upper secondary schools.