BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Caffeine is a stimulant drug, although legal, and adults use it widely to perk themselves up: Being "addicted" to caffeine is considered perfectly normal.
But how strong is caffeine's appeal in young people who consume an abundance of soft drinks? What impact does acute and chronic caffeine consumption have on their blood pressure, heart rate and hand tremor?
Furthermore, does consuming caffeinated drinks during adolescence contribute to later use of legal or illicit drugs?
Jennifer L. Temple, PhD, a neurobiologist, assistant professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the University at Buffalo and director of its Nutrition and Health Research Laboratory, is looking for answers to these three questions through a 4-year, $800,000 study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Her paper addressing the first question appears in the December 2009 issue of Behavioural Pharmacology, and is thought to be the first study to show a gender effect in the appeal of caffeinated soda in young people.
Given the effects of caffeine in adults, the researchers expected to see a difference between those who habitually consumed a lot of soft drinks, and those who consumed few. However, results showed that the difference was between boys and girls: The boys in the study worked harder and longer on a computer-based exercise to obtain caffeinated drinks.
Temple and colleagues now have completed the second part of the study -- a double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response study of the effects of caffeine on the teenagers' blood pressure, heart rate and hand tremor. Two papers currently are being written reporting the results.
The third, and perhaps the most important question in the study, focusing on the effect of caffeine consumption during adolescence on later use of legal or illegal drugs, is getting underway.
Temple's primary research interest is a behavior
|Contact: Lois Baker|
University at Buffalo