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Alshamrani, Al-Mulhim, Al-Saleem, and Al-Mulhim: Pattern of energy drink consumption and the associated behaviour among medical students at King Faisal University

Introduction: Energy drinks (EDs) have been found to have detrimental health effects. The pattern of consumption among King Faisal University (KFU) medical students, as well as student awareness about their health effects, are not known.

Objectives: To assess the consumption frequency of EDs, motives for intake and knowledge about their health effects among medical students at KFU.

Materials and methods: All medical students from second year onwards were targeted for this cross-sectional study. A pre-tested self-administered questionnaire was used for data collection and included information about sociodemographic characteristics, frequency of consumption (times per week), motives for using EDs, occasions of peak consumption and student knowledge about the possible detrimental effects of EDs. The generalized anxiety disorders (GAD) scale was added to assess the presence of generalized anxiety.

Results: Out of the total population (n = 715), the response rate was 288/353 males (81.6%) and 239/362 females (66.0%). A total of 210/527 (39.8%) reported consumption of EDs during the previous 7 days, in which consumption was significantly higher among males and those in the early years of medical college. The median frequency of consumption was 4.0 cans/week; frequency of consumption was higher among males and those at advanced years at the college. The peak of consumption was during exam days. Over 60.0% of the included students lacked knowledge about the detrimental effects of EDs. Analgesics, namely Panadol® (GlaxoSmithKline, Brentford, UK), were the most commonly used additive (12.4%) followed by amino acids and vitamins (3.0%). The GAD score, with a median of 7.0 generalized anxiety score, was significantly higher among EDs users (P = 0.001).

Conclusions: Medical students at KFU are heavy consumers of EDs with concurrent unawareness of their detrimental effects. The pattern of consumption, mixing EDs with analgesics, and the presence of generalized anxiety disorders are alarming and call for proper health education and guidance.

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