College Students Switch from Soda to Coffee

Be careful what you wish for. While critics of the sugary drink industry are hoping Americans will give up soda, new survey date from the NPD Group, which tracks what Americans eat and drink, shows that one group seems to already be making the switch: 18-24 year olds, who seem to prefer coffee over soda. In 2002, 25% of 18-24 year olds reported drinking coffee during the two-week period measured, but in 2012, 39% of them did. And while the critics of sugary drinks may be happy about the switch, healthcare providers are less sanguine.

“There are absolutely negative implications,” explains Amy Wolfson of the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, referring to studies that have shown caffeine use can reduce REM sleep. ”We know that REM sleep is needed and has positive implications for memory consolidation and learning,” Wolfson says. “And if college students are getting too little sleep, or poorer quality sleep, it’s likely to have negative implications for academic performance.”

Scientists devoted to the study of caffeine see a considerable health impact from rising caffeine consumption. Dr. Jack James, Editor of the Journal of Caffeine Research, recently called for caffeine to be regulated as harmful substance associated with a surprising number of fatalities and near-fatalities. In an editorial, he asked bluntly, “How many caffeine-related fatalities and near-misses must there be before we regulate?”

The smart way to consume coffee? According to experts, first check the labels. A 12-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee has about 260 milligrams of caffeine in it, five times the amount in a 12-ounce Diet Coke. Second, if you have to drink coffee, remember that coffee has a half-life of five hours, on average. If you have to drink it, drink it early and stop drinking it by 2 pm. Or, if you like the flavor of coffee, choose decaffeinated.

Click here to read more at, here to read more in The Atlantic, and here to read more in the Journal of Caffeine Research.

Cup of Coffee image © Julius Schnorzman / Wikimedia

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