Energy Drink Use in U.S. Service Members After Deployment: Associations With Mental Health Problems, Aggression, and Fatigue.
Mil Med. 2018 Nov 1 ;183(11-12):e364-e370. PMID: 30169675
Robin L Toblin
Introduction: Energy drink use has become widespread, particularly by service members, but its association with mental health problems and other behavioral and health problems such as aggression and fatigue is unclear. The present study examines the association between energy drink use and mental health problems, aggressive behaviors, and fatigue in a military population.
Materials and Methods: At 7 months following a combat deployment, 627 male infantry soldiers were surveyed. Prevalence rates were examined for the frequency (defined as the number of energy drinks consumed per day) and volume of energy drink use (defined as the number of ounces of energy drink consumed per day). Regression models examined the associations between energy drink use and mental health problems (i.e., sleep problems, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol misuse), aggressive behaviors, and fatigue. This study was approved by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Institutional Review Board.
Results: Past month energy drink use was reported by 75.7% of soldiers with 16.1% consuming high levels (2+ energy drinks/day). High energy drink use, when examined by frequency, was associated with mental health problems (adjusted odds ratios from 2.0 to 2.7), aggressive behaviors (adjusted odds ratios from 2.3 to 3.5), and fatigue (β = 0.143, p =<0.001) relative to those drinking none or less than one per week. These patterns were consistent when examining volume of energy drink consumption (high levels = 24 ounces or more/day).
Conclusion: High energy drink use was reported by one in six soldiers and was significantly related to mental health problems, aggressive behaviors, and fatigue in a military population following a combat deployment. Messaging regarding energy drinks should encourage moderation and highlight the association with negative health outcomes and paradoxical association with fatigue. Future studies should examine these relationships in a longitudinal design to understand how high energy drink use may impact or be impacted by these health-related variables.