2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Jana Leigh White
Finding efficient ways to stay awake, alert and focused are of major concern to college students, particularly those students also working part- to full-time. Research has shown caffeine to confer physiological effects that may maximize study and work habits. The relationship between number of job hours worked and caffeine consumption habits was investigated among 200 full-time (12+ current credit hours) college students at the University of Kentucky. Subjects included 102 males and 98 females ranging from 18 to 40 years of age (average 19.9 + 2.2 years.) Ninety-five of the 200 students (47.5%) were employed at the time of investigation, with weekly work hours ranging from 2-40 (average: 16 + 7.7) hours per week. Participants were selected at random and were administered an anonymous survey. Those students who worked 10-20 hours per week consumed caffeine on more days per week (average: 4.38 days/wk) than did those who were unemployed, worked <10 hours per week, or worked 20-40 hours per week (averages: 4.18, 4.11, and 4.26 days/wk respectively). Over 1/3 of employed males (34.8%) and 40.8% of employed females (37.9% of all employed subjects) reported consuming more caffeine on days that they work the longest hours. Over half (55%) of all subjects reported feeling more alert on days that caffeine is consumed than on days that it is not (48% and 62.2% of males and females respectively). The most common sources of caffeine were caffeinated sodas among males and coffee/tea among females (66.7% and 81.6% respectively). Over half (67.5%) of participants indicated that they experienced no side effects from caffeine consumption. Of those who did experience side-effects, over one third (36.3%) reported experiencing trouble sleeping. Overall, findings of this study reveal that the weight of one's weekly load may not independently have a major impact on their caffeine consumption habits.