2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Caffeine is the number one psychoactive substance used in the world. Caffeine serves as a morning "pick me up", an extra burst of energy before a workout, an increased sensation when college students party, and for many other reasons. One of the major reasons college aged adults use caffeine is as a supplement to provide extra energy and extra focus when studying.
It was hypothesized that the more caffeine a person consumes the better their concentration and the better their grades, as measured by GPA, will be. It was also hypothesized that senior intake of caffeine will be the greatest.
In order to evaluate if caffeine does indeed play a role in college students' studying habits and grades, surveys were distributed to 100 freshmen who had completed one semester of college at the University of Kentucky and 100 seniors who had completed at least 3 years of college at the University of Kentucky. The survey contained questions about their age, gender, average amount of caffeine consumed daily, how caffeine is consumed, their current GPA, etc.
The survey yielded results from 105 male (average age=20±2.3 years) students and 95 female (average age=20±2.0 years) students. 79.5% of college students were shown to have consumed caffeine daily. Most commonly students were consuming caffeine in soft drinks; this included both diet and regular sodas. Grade point average was compared based on gender, class rank, and caffeine consumption.
Based on all participants, females had an average cumulative grade point average of 3.36±0.458, while males showed an average cumulative grade point average of 3.32±0.448. Freshmen had an average cumulative grade point average of 3.30±0.547, while seniors had an average cumulative grade point average of 3.37±0.332. The final comparison showed that caffeine consumers had an average grade point average of 3.33±0.443, while non-consumers had an average grade point average of 3.36±0.491. T-tests were performed to calculate the significance of these results. No data set was shown to be significant.
The results also showed that students were consuming caffeine in many different forms. In order from largest source to smallest, 57% consumed caffeine in soft drink form, 52.5% consumed energy drinks, 39.5% consumed coffee, 14.5% consumed tea, 4.5% consumed caffeine pills, and 0.1% consumed caffeine in some other non-listed form. Participants were allowed to select multiple caffeine sources.
Students also reported several side effects from the use of caffeine. Of the participants that consumed caffeine, 12.5% reported suffering from headaches, 16% suffered from crashing, 39.5% exhibited sleepiness, and 2% reported other non-listed side effects. From these results, it can be concluded that college students need to be better educated on the true effects of caffeine on academic success and the potential side effects associated with its consumption.