Military Women and energy drinks
FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Consumption of energy drinks and energy shots is up for both military women and men, but not without some controversy. Proponents claim energy drinks can improve performance and contain natural ingredients. However, when it comes to women and what motivates them to purchase and consume energy drinks and energy shots, the reasons differ from men.
“Women primarily use energy drinks to help boost their energy,” said Patricia Deuster, director of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. “Men consume energy drinks and energy shots with the perception they will improve or enhance their athletic performance.”
Energy drinks represent the fastest-growing segment of the beverage market in the United States, with sales approaching $9 billion annually. According to a recent study conducted by Deuster, roughly 53 percent of respondents to a survey reported consuming at least one energy drink every 30 days. These beverages are specifically marketed toward people who participate in sports and those in the military. Energy drinks are positioned as products that will improve energy, enhance athletic performance, increase stamina and improve concentration.
Deuster warned that some herbal supplements found in energy drinks could have unwanted side effects. “Ingredients such as guarana and yerba mate may cause restlessness and even insomnia in women. So before someone decides to consume an energy drink, they should take time to read the label listing the ingredients,” she said. “Women should also be conscious about what time of day they consume these drinks, especially if taken within a couple of hours before one normally goes to sleep.” Deuster noted that energy drinks can contribute to a consumer’s daily caffeine totals.
The most commonly reported side effects of energy drinks and energy shots for both men and women were increased heart rate, restlessness and difficulty falling asleep. Side effects have important implications for deployed military personnel. A report done in 2012 showed that almost half of deployed service members consumed at least one energy drink each day, with a small percentage saying they consumed three or more energy drinks a day.
The study also showed that mixing alcohol with energy drinks is a common practice for consumers. “While there is no hard data on the number of women in the military that mix energy drinks and alcohol, this would be an area to explore in the future, and how this potentially might affect the health of women,” Deuster said. “Today’s military is made up of many athletically inclined service members, so the more we know and understand what kind of lifestyle and dietary choices they are making and why, the more effectively we can help them achieve their performance goals.”