Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Caffeine Consumption Patterns and Beliefs of College Freshmen

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Caffeine Consumption Patterns and Beliefs of College Freshmen

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Background: Caffeine consumption by young people has increased dramatically over the last decade through increased coffee consumption and "energy drinks." In higher amounts, caffeine causes many adverse effects that are cause for concern. Purpose: Purposes of this study were to determine: (1) the amount of caffeine consumed by a sample of college students, (2) beliefs regarding caffeine consumption, (3) reported perceived benefits and adverse effects of caffeine consumption, (4) reasons for consuming caffeine, and (5) predictors of caffeine consumption. Methods: An anonymous survey was administered 300 freshmen attending a southeastern university. Results: Eighty-three percent of the students reported having at least one sign/symptom of caffeine intoxication in the past; 51% reported having at least one sign/symptom of caffeine withdrawal. Students consumed three to five times the recommended amount of caffeine. Father's social index, participation in organized activity in college and three alertness items (concentration, keep awake, wake up) were significant predictors of caffeine consumption. Discussion: Students ingested caffeine at levels that could cause negative health effects and seemed unaware of the total amount of caffeine consumed. Translation to Health Education Practice: More information about caffeine should be incorporated into health education at all levels, so students can identify and avoid negative effects along with caffeine withdrawal and addiction.

BACKGROUND

Caffeine consumption by adolescents and young adults has increased dramatically over the last decade through both increased coffee consumption and so-called "energy drinks." (1,2) Energy drinks, such as Red Bull, Monster and Spike Shooter, for example, have become increasingly popular. In 2002, retail sales of energy drinks totaled $1.2 billion but increased 440% to $6.6 billion in 2007. By 2011, energy drinks are expected to exceed $9 billion)A reported 31% of U.S. teens drink energy drinks, which have much more caffeine than a standard soft drink. For example, a 12-ounce serving of Amp contains 107 milligrams, Monster contains 120 milligrams and Spike Shooter contains 428 milligrams of caffeine compared to 34 milligrams in a 12-ounce Coca-Cola. (4) Consumption of coffee by young people is also growing. The National Coffee Association reported that in 2007, 37% of 18-24 year-olds drank coffee, an increase from 26% in 2005. (5) Coffee drinks consumed by young people are often large, sweet drinks such as those sold at Starbucks. A 16-ounce Starbucks coffee contains 320 milligrams of caffeine, almost 10 times as much as that provided in a 12-ounce Coca-Cola. (6) Whereas consumption of energy drinks and coffee is increasing, the consumption of soft drinks decreased from 2004 to 2009.7 However, American consumption of soft drinks was still 736 eight-ounce servings per capita in 2009, with the U.S. having the highest per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks in the world. (8) Caffeine content of soft drinks ranges from 0 mg to 71 mg per 12 oz. serving with most popular soft drinks ranging from 35 to 60 mg (Mountain Dew has 71 mg). (9) While young people can get more caffeine per drink from energy drinks and coffee, the consumption of soft drinks certainly contributes to total overall caffeine consumption.

Caffeine is often used for some positive effects that can result when it is consumed in moderation. Some of these effects include alertness, cognitive vigilance and increased driver perception of driving performance among other effects. (10) However, while caffeine is not usually associated with life-threatening health risks, there are many adverse effects that are cause for concern. Of all substances reported to and tracked by poison control centers, more than 23% were due to excessive caffeine consumption among ages 6-19. (11) There is increased evidence of adverse physical effects related to caffeine such as sleep deprivation, (12) increased heart rate and blood pressure, (l3,9) central nervous systems disorders, vasodilation, trembling, seizures, (13) urticaria (severe allergic reaction), (14) headaches, (15) and increased body temperature. …

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