Adolescent Caffeine Consumption and Self-Reported Violence and Conduct Disorder
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Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world and currently the only one legally available to children and adolescents. The sale and use of caffeinated beverages has increased markedly among adolescents during the last decade. However, research on caffeine use and behaviors among adolescents is scarce. We investigate the relationship between adolescent caffeine use and self-reported violent behaviors and conduct disorders in a population-based cross-sectional sample of 3,747 10th grade students (15–16 years of age, 50.2 % girls) who were enrolled in the Icelandic national education system during February 2012. Through a series of multiple regression models, while controlling for background factors, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms and current medication and peer delinquency, and including measures on substance use, our findings show robust additive explanatory power of caffeine for both violent behaviors and conduct disorders. In addition, the association of caffeine to the outcomes is significantly stronger for girls than boys for both violent behaviors and conduct disorders. Future studies are needed to examine to what extent, if at all, these relationships are causal. Indication of causal connections between caffeine consumption and negative outcomes such as those reported here would call into question the acceptability of current policies concerning the availability of caffeine to adolescents and the targeting of adolescence in the marketing of caffeine products.
KeywordsAdolescents Caffeine Conduct disorders Violent behavior Iceland
This work was partially supported by grants from the Icelandic Prevention Fund, the Icelandic Alcohol and Drug Prevention Committee, the City of Reykjavik, and the Sports and Recreational Committee of Reykjavik to the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis.
ALK conceived the study, conducted the initial literature review and designed and carried out the statistical analyses as well as contributing substantially to the writing. IDS participated in the design and writing of the paper, oversaw the ICSRA data collection, and reviewed multiple versions of the manuscript. SSF contributed to the design, writing and formatting of the paper and reviewed multiple versions of the manuscript. JEJ wrote parts of the introduction and discussion sections, reviewed multiple versions of the manuscript, and contributed to the analyses. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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