Objective: To determine the association between caffeinated-beverage consumption, self-perceived academic load, and self-perceived stress levels in first and second year students at UPR-MSC.
Methods: A descriptive epidemiological study was performed using a self-administered anonymous questionnaire given to a representative stratified sample of 275 students. Questions included information regarding socio-demographic characteristics, academic load and stress indicators, and caffeinated-beverage consumption. Chi2 was used to assess the associations between these variables.
Results: Most participants were women (68%), aged 21-30 years (88%), with low annual household incomes (43%). Most perceived their academic loads as being heavy (68%), and most perceived their academic stress levels as being moderate (37%). Academic load was significantly correlated with stress level (p<0.001). About 88% of the participants reported consuming caffeinated beverages; of those, 87% drank soft drinks, 83% drank coffee, 56% drank hot chocolate, 40% drank tea, and 29% drank energy drinks, all of which were--according to the participants (54%)--used mainly to stay awake. Soft drinks and coffee intake increased in periods of high stress, and many (49%) reported that these beverages were useful for coping with stress. Energy drinks, in particular, were consumed more often by men compared to women (p<0.05). None of these beverages were significantly associated with academic stress or load.
Conclusion: Consuming caffeinated beverages is a popular practice among participants in this sample, with soft drinks and coffee being the ones that are the most frequently consumed. No associations were found between the consumption of caffeinated beverages and academic stress or load.