Young Adults Are Swapping Out Soda For Coffee As Their Source Of Caffeinated Energy

A new survey reveals that young adults are leaving the soda of their youth behind and turning to coffee as their pick-me-up of choice.

The survey — conducted by the NPD group, which tracks trends in Americans eating and drinking habits — reveals that, in 2002, about 25 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds reported drinking coffee sometime within a two-week period. By 2012, the percentage of this age group drinking coffee in the same time period hit 39 percent.

Harry Balzer, of the NPD group, commented: “It’s an explosive growth in the consumption of coffee.”

Besides, in a see of new research linking sugary soda to weight gain and other health problems, studies seem to be glorifying coffee. Recent studies link coffee consumption to a range of beneficial side effects including decreased risk of dementia and decreased risk of depression among women.

Compared to soda, coffee seems like the better choice.

Before you grab another shot of espresso, however, note that experts say there is one significant downside to coffee that seems to be overlooked: Coffee consumption can “get in the way of a good night’s sleep.”

Bruce Goldberger, a toxicologist at the University of Florida, notes, “Our data has shown that a brewed coffee contains much more caffeine than a cold cola beverage.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest researched several popular food and drink items and compared their caffeine content. Research found that a 12-ounce cup of coffee from Starbucks contains about 260 milligrams of caffeine.

That’s five times more caffeine than a 12-ounce can of Diet Coke.

Consumers should note that all coffees are not created equal, however. McDonald’s coffee, for instance, has only 100 mg of caffeine in a similar serving size to Starbucks’ 260 mg option. Along with nutritional information, many coffee shops have caffeine contest charts available for patrons.

But if you’re in the 18- to 24-year-old age bracket, be cautious when choosing your caffeinated beverage of choice. Amy Wolfson of the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts has studied caffeine’s influence on adolescents and found that it has a significant effect on sleep. Even adults with sleep problems, she notes, do not always associate their struggles with caffeine consumption.

“There are absolutely negative implications. We know that REM sleep is needed and has positive implications for memory consolidation and learning,” says Wolfson. Lack of sleep, particularly for college students, is likely to negatively effect academic performance.

The expert’s advice? Pay attention to how much coffee you drink and when you drink it.