More Screen Time, More Sugar and Caffeine

Young teens who spend more time with TV and electronic devices drink more sugared or caffeinated drinks than others according to a study of U.S. teens led by McMaster University researchers. It is a concern because many exceed recommended levels of both sugar and caffeine. The study was published in 2019 by Kelly M. Bradbury, Ofir Turel and Katherine M. Morrison (pictured) of the Department of Pediatrics, Centre for Metabolism, Obesity and Diabetes Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. My post follows an earlier theme of Food, diets and dieting.

Here is the Abstract


Despite recent declines in consumption of sugary beverages, energy drinks (ED) and sodas continue to contribute a substantial amount of sugar and caffeine to the diet of youth. Consumption of these beverages has been linked with electronic device use, however in-depth associations between sugar and caffeine intake from energy drinks and sodas with various electronic devices are not clear.


Describe the relationship of soda and energy drink consumption and associated added sugar and caffeine intake with electronic device use among adolescents.


Secondary data from the 2013–2016 cycles of Monitoring the Future Survey, a national, repeated, cross-sectional study, were analyzed. Information on energy drink and soda consumption by students in grades 8 and 10 (n = 32,418) from 252–263 schools randomly sampled from all US states was used.


Soda and energy drink consumption decreased each year from 2013–2016 while daily use of electronic devices remained stable. An additional hour/day of TV was linked to a 6.92g (6.31,7.48; p<0.001) increase in sugar intake and a 32% (OR = 1.32; 1.29,1.35; p < .001) higher risk of exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) recommended sugar intakes. Further, each hour/day of TV was linked to a 28% increased risk of exceeding caffeine recommendations (OR = 1.25–1.31; p<0.001). Each hour per day talking on a cellphone was associated with an increased risk of exceeding WHO sugar and caffeine intakes by 14% (OR = 1.11–1.16; p<0.001) and 18% (OR = 1.15–1.21; p<0.001) respectively. Video game use was only weakly linked to caffeine intake. Computer use for school was associated with lower likelihood of exceeding sugar intake cut-offs.


While a trend towards reduced energy drink and soda intake from 2013–2016 was evident, greater electronic device use, especially TV time, was linked to higher intake of beverage-derived added sugar and caffeine amongst adolescents. Addressing these behaviours through counselling or health promotion could potentially help to reduce excess sugar and caffeine intake from sodas and energy drinks among this population.

To this conclusion, one might add:

Upstream prevention is more effective than downstream. Legislation is necessary to remove the images from screens and to remove sugar and caffeine from the drinks.

Published by dfmarks


%d bloggers like this: