2007 -2009 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Background: College students are frequent consumers of energy drinks such as Red Bull, Full Throttle, and Bawls. These beverages contain caffeine which can help students stay up late while studying. Caffeine is capable of reducing one’s fatigue while improving their overall cognitive abilities, including reaction times and general reasoning accuracy.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of energy drinks on a person’s cognition and body metabolism.
Subjects: 151 undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky. Participants included 57 males (18-24 years old) and 94 females (18-35 years old).
Design: A random cross-sectional survey was administered to students on March, 4th 2009 to gather information about their personal energy drink consumption, favorable brands, ergogenic use during exercise, fluctuations in body weight during the past year, GPA, side effects, and if they believe energy drinks improve their mental concentration.
Results: Of the 151 students surveyed, 52% reported being regular energy drinkers while 48% did not regularly consume energy drinks. The average GPA was 3.26 and there was no significant difference between energy drinkers and nondrinkers. Of all the students who regularly consume energy drinks, 67% were males and 44% were females. Students who drank an average of 1-2 energy drinks per week had the highest mean GPA of 3.35. 66% of energy drinkers said that their consumption amount increased while attending college. 67% felt that energy drinks helped improve their mental concentration and focus while studying. The average duration for the perceived energy boost perceived by the energy drinks was reported to be 137.3 minutes. There was no significant difference in the bodyweight changes observed between energy drinkers and nondrinkers. However, female energy drinkers gained 34% less weight in the past year compared to the female non-energy drinkers. The top three side effects were reported to be an increase in heart rate, jitters, and dehydration.
Conclusion: This data supports the theory that regular energy drink consumption may increase the body’s metabolism, particularly in females. Additional research is needed in order to completely investigate the effects of caffeine, the primary ingredient used for most energy drinks.