Download the survey results here
- Over nine in ten (93%) Americans report consuming caffeine.
- Three in four (75%) caffeine consumers have caffeine at least once a day, and one in four (25%) consume it three or more times a day.
- Most Americans underestimate the safe amount of caffeine to consume for a healthy adult on a daily basis, while three in ten (29%) say they don’t know what the safe amount is.
- From preferred caffeine sources to reasons for its consumption, perspectives on caffeine vary by age.
Caffeine is well-entrenched in the lives of most Americans. Whether it’s drinking a cup of joe in the morning, turning to a soda or tea for an afternoon pick-me-up, or indulging in coffee ice cream or tiramisu to end the day, caffeine-containing products have become an integral part of our daily food choices. But exactly what types of caffeinated products are Americans choosing, and what are people’s reasons for consuming caffeine in the first place? What do Americans know about caffeine safety and the amount of caffeine in various products, and what are their labeling preferences? This survey aimed to find out.
- Soft drinks, brewed coffee, and tea are the most common sources of caffeine among Americans. Over nine in ten (93%) survey respondents reported consuming at least one type of caffeinated product. Of these, 75% said they consume caffeine at least once a day, and one in four (25%) said they have it three times a day or more. Over half reported consuming soft drinks (54%) and brewed coffee (52%), and over two in five (42%) said they consume tea. Fewer reported consuming energy drinks (25%), caffeine-containing chocolate, candy or gum (23%), desserts made with coffee (18%), and caffeine pills or supplements (6%). However, while these products were less popular among the general population, those under age 45 were more likely to say they consume energy drinks, desserts made with coffee, and caffeine pills or supplements, in addition to instant coffee, espresso drinks, and energy shots.
- Liking the taste was the most popular reason for consuming foods, beverages, or supplements with caffeine. “Like the taste” was the most common reason for consuming products with caffeine (55% selected this option), followed by “to feel awake/alert” (45%) and being “part of my routine” (45%). Motivations behind consuming caffeine differed by age, with those over age 65 being more likely to say they did so because they liked the taste and it was part of their routine. By contrast, those under 45 were more likely to say they consumed caffeinated products to improve their mood, to help them focus, to relieve stress, for social aspects, and for special occasions.
Reasons for consuming caffeine also differed based on the type of product consumed. For example, those who consume soft drinks or tea were more likely to say that they consume caffeinated products because they like the taste, it feels comforting, and to improve their mood. By contrast, those who consume energy drinks were more likely to say that they consume caffeinated products to feel awake/alert, to improve their mood, to help them focus, to relieve stress, to improve physical performance, for social aspects, and for special occasions.
- There is confusion and a lack of awareness about caffeine safety. Although most people (67%) believe that caffeine is safe when consumed in moderation, less is known among Americans about what the safe amount really is. For healthy adults, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cited 400 milligrams a day as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative health effects. When Americans were asked to select what they perceived to be the safe amount of caffeine for a healthy adult to consume on a daily basis, over half underestimated the safe amounts, with 38% saying “up to 200/mg a day” and 17% saying “up to 300/mg a day.” Only 17% accurately selected “up to 400/mg a day.” Meanwhile, about three in 10 (29%) stated that they didn’t know what a safe amount of caffeine would be. People earning less than $40,000 per year, those age 65 and over, and those without college degrees were more likely to reporting not knowing, compared with their counterparts.
- Americans turn to a diverse range of sources for information on caffeine safety. When asked to rank the top three information sources they would refer to for caffeine safety, the options that rose to the top were labels on food packaging (49%), websites or social media accounts of health portals, such as WebMD or Mayo Clinic (47%), and their own healthcare provider (44%). When looking closer at age demographics, people over age 65 were more likely to say that they would refer to their healthcare provider, while those under 45 were more likely to place websites or social media accounts of brands and friends or family in their top three information sources.
Survey results were derived from online interviews of 1,000 adults conducted from February 3rd to February 8th, 2022, by Lincoln Park Strategies. They were weighted to ensure proportional representation of the U.S. population, with a margin of error of ±3.1 points at the 95% confidence level.
For more information on caffeine safety, visit IFIC’s Caffeine Website and Caffeine Calculator to estimate your caffeine consumption from various sources.