Background: Excess sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is associated with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiometabolic disease. In addition to having high added sugar content, caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages (CSSBs) are the predominant source of caffeine among children. However, the extent to which the caffeine and sugar in CSSBs promote continued CSSB intake among children has not been rigorously studied.

Aim: To develop a conceptual framework of children’s CSSB consumption using group concept mapping.

Methods: Children, ages 8-14, recruited from the Washington, D.C. area who reported consuming ≥ 12 ounces of CSSBs per day participated in concept mapping, an applied social research multimethodology. Concept mapping involved 3 participant-driven activities, including: (1) brainstorming (n=51), during which children reported reasons or determinants for their CSSB consumption, from which 58 unique determinants were identified, (2) sorting (n=72), during which children categorized each of the determinants and named each category, and (3) rating (n=74), during which children rated the influence of each determinant on their own consumption (Likert scale, 1-5). Similarity matrices, multidimensional scaling, and hierarchical cluster analysis were applied to generate concept maps.

Results: The concept maps generated from this study displayed the 58 determinants in a 9-cluster solution, reflective of 3 overarching motives: Perceived Mental and Physical Benefits, Energy and Function, and Preference and Palatability. Among the 58 determinants, the greatest drivers of consumption related to Energy and Function and Preference and Palatability.

Conclusions: The use of concept maps to illuminate the importance of certain determinants, such as energy improvements or taste preferences related to caffeine and/or sugar, as drivers of consumption will inform the development of tailored interventions to reduce CSSB consumption.


S.E. Halberg: None. A.J. Visek: None. E.F. Blake: None. J.M. Sacheck: None. A. Sylvetsky: None.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at