2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
The incidence of obesity has increased significantly in the past several years with 72.5 million Americans now considered overweight or obese. Poor diet and inactivity contribute to unwanted weight gain. Recent marketing strategies target young adults with modern, flashy ads promoting products such as caffeinated energy drinks. These high calorie, caffeine-containing drinks (energy drinks, sodas, coffee, tea, and chocolate) are popular among teens and college students. For many, these beverages have become an early morning routine to combat fatigue, a pick-me-up to get through the day, or simply a way to stay awake late into the night. The relationship between caffeine consumption and body weight was investigated in 200 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Kentucky. Participants included 145 females (age 21.2±4.51 years) and 55 males (age 20.3±3.38 years) who completed a survey regarding physical activity as well as frequency, type, and reasons for consuming caffeinated beverages. The average body mass index (BMI) for those that consume caffeinated beverages was 23.45±4.56kg/m² and for non-caffeine consumers was 24.11±3.45kg/m². Those individuals who consume caffeinated beverages on a monthly basis were found to have a lower BMI (21.59±2.20kg/m²) compared to those who consume caffeinated beverages more frequently (BMI 23.16±5.00kg/m²). This research provides evidence that frequent consumption of caffeine-containing drinks may contribute to unwanted weight gain in college students.