Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Susan Pedigo

Relational Format



Ask any college student how he or she gets through long study sessions, all-nighters, and the always grueling finals week and he or she will most likely reference some caffeine-containing beverage as the antidote, with energy drinks becoming an ever increasing option. The effects, both physiological and psychological, of the ingredients in energy drinks (caffeine and, to a lesser degree, glucose) dictate their usefulness to consumers. A review of the available research literature from http://scholar.google.com using the following keywords: caffeine, energy drink, Red Bull, caffeinated beverage, caffeine drink, energy drink industry, energy drink company, and glucose yielded the references that have been aggregated, synthesized, and summarized in this thesis. Caffeine's ability to improve one's subjective mood, reaction time, memory, and attention has been scientifically verified by the available research literature; in essence, then, caffeine is a legal, low-grade stimulant. The ubiquity of caffeine in everyday life has made its consumption a part of everyday life and a normal means of self-medication. This ubiquity in today's society has also been promoted by the lax regulatory structure regarding the compound — a regulatory structure that has allowed EDs manufacturers to include five times more caffeine in their products than in a can of Coca-Cola. EDs manufacturers have embraced caffeine's stimulatory effects in such an atmosphere of lax regulation and high demand produced by environmental and societal factors to produce high-caffeine, high-sugar products uniquely suited to their target demographic — twenty year olds. However, they also dictate the negative side effects that can harm consumer health over the short or long-term.

Included in

Chemistry Commons



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