There are claims that energy drink (ED) consumption can bring about an improvement in mental functioning in the form of increased alertness and enhanced mental and physical energy. These claims address the lifestyle of a student of sleep deprivation and academic pressure with ED consumption becoming a popular practice amongst students. The study’s objectives were to determine the prevalence, reasons for, and patterns of ED and alcohol mixed with ED (AmED) consumption amongst university students.
Registered students of the Health Sciences University, Gauteng Province, South Africa, formed the study population where this quantitative cross-sectional survey conveniently collected data by means of previous validated self-administered questionnaires from 490 students representing the diverse demographics of the university. Questions on the socio-demographic profile of the participants; pattern of alcohol use; reasons, pattern, and preferred types of EDs use; and the pattern, reason, and experience of AmED use during the past 12 months were asked. Frequency and percentages of distributions were determined, and the possible factors contributing to ED consumption were computed using the chi-square test. Results indicated that a total of 58% of students were consuming EDs mainly to stay awake (31%), to be more alert (14%), and to help with concentration (15%), 69% were consuming alcohol, and 16% were consuming AmEDs.
There is an urgent need for an appropriate public health prevention intervention so that ED consumers can make informed choices when indulging in these health behaviors before the seemingly harmless consumption of ED amongst students becomes a public health issue.