"This paper indicates that the concern about soda consumption in children and teens should not be limited to the fact that soft drinks add more calories to the diet," says Dr. Margaret R. Savoca, nutritionist and postdoctoral fellow at the Medical College of Georgia and lead author on the study. "Caffeine consumption may also impact their blood pressure."
She noted that previous studies have shown caffeine's impact on blood pressure in adults but its impact on adolescent pressures has not been as extensively explored despite the fact that caffeine-consuming adolescents outnumber those who don't drink caffeine by two to one.
While she says the new findings provide another reason for parents to keep an eye on the amount of caffeinated drinks their children consume, they also point to the need for further exploration of the impact of this common stimulant.
"It is important to keep in mind that caffeine could also be a marker, an indicator of a lot of other practices that impact blood pressure," Dr. Savoca says. "I think probably our major take-home message is more research is needed to explore the relationship between rising rates of adolescent hypertension and soft drink consumption."
Dr. Savoca and her colleagues at MCG's Georgia Prevention Institute looked at the blood pressures and caffeinated-beverage intake of 159 healthy black and white adolescents ages 15 to 19.
The adolescents were enrolled in another MCG study, led by Dr. Gregory A. Harshfield, looking at blood pressure response to competitive stress, such as playing video games. That study enabled participants to choose from a wide array of foods commonly consumed by teens, then provided them with everything they ate
Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia