More than three-quarters (76%) of Italian adolescents who completed anonymous questionnaires consumed caffeine on a daily basis and nearly half (46%) exceeded the upper limits recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The findings are published in Acta Paediatrica.

In the study of 1,213 adolescents from four schools in Southern Italy, coffee was the most frequently consumed caffeinated drink and the main contributor to daily caffeine intake, followed by soft drinks and energy drinks.

Researchers have emphasized that excess caffeine can be dangerous for adolescents (causing nervousness, jitteriness, sleep disorders, elevated blood pressure, and other effects).

“These results could be used to inform an awareness campaign that primarily focuses on reducing caffeine consumption among adolescents,” says senior author Angelo Campanozzi, a professor at the University of Foggia, in Italy, in a release. “As dietary habits are developed during childhood and adolescence, education to keep caffeine intake low during adolescence is crucial to reduce future bad habits in adulthood.”