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Buckley surveying energy drink consumption

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- An ongoing study is currently being conducted on the prevalence of energy drink consumption among all Air Force members and civilians at Buckley.

Investigators at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., initiated the survey in September to understand how many Air Force members drink energy drinks, the side effects that are experienced and the reasons people choose to consume them. After gaining approval from the Air Force Survey Office, 11 other sites have been invited to join the research efforts.

The survey will run for four weeks at each site, with the study collection period concluding at the end of the year.

Energy drinks are widely used in the military, although little is known about the physical effects on the body. The Air Force Times published an article in June 2012 regarding a two-year research project currently underway at David Grant USAF Medical Center at Travis AFB. This study is specifically looking at the effects of energy drinks on the blood pressure, heart rate and heart rhythm of users.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits the amount of caffeine in sodas and other beverages to no more than 71 milligrams per 12-ounce can, there are no such restrictions on energy drinks since they are classified as 'nutritional supplements.' This is particularly concerning to medical providers, since some energy drinks contain up to 500 milligrams per container.

Some people consume the drinks for the positive effects of increased mental alertness, energy and stamina; however, excessive amounts of caffeine can cause insomnia, irritability, anxiety, crabbiness, headaches and an increased heartbeat.

Energy drinks have had much publicity lately. In November, the FDA received claims that a popular energy product may have led to 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations during the past four years. In October, the family of a 14-year-old girl sued the makers of one particular energy drink for wrongful death. After consuming two 24-ounce containers in 24 hours, the girl became unconscious and later died from a cardiac arrhythmia, a rapid, slow or irregular heart rate, due to caffeine toxicity, which prevented the heart from pumping blood.

Although there have not been any reports of deaths attributed to energy drinks in the military, the limited knowledge about the physical effects of energy drinks and how many Air Force members consume them is a potential health risk.

A previous research study in 2008 found consumption rates of energy drinks to be 61 percent of all active-duty members surveyed at one Air Force base. A more recent study in 2012 at Travis AFB indicated that consumption rates were 87 percent for active duty members, with 40 percent consuming at least one drink per week. Consumption among non-active duty members at Travis was 61 percent, which is significantly lower.

These findings raise more questions about why the more recent consumption rates are higher and why active-duty members consume energy drinks at higher rates than non-active duty members. Your participation on this survey may help provide answers to these questions. Feedback is essential to answering questions about energy drink use within the Buckley population.


The survey is completely voluntary and the identities of participants will remain anonymous. Military members and civilians in all service branches, excluding contractors, may participate. It takes approximately five minutes to complete. To access the brief survey, click here.

For questions or additional information, call 720-847-7452.
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