Professor encourages moderation in caffeine consumption

According to the research of Bloomberg, millennials account for around 44 percent of coffee consumption in the United States and around 48 percent of 18-to 24-year-olds consume it on a daily basis. Illustration by Penelope Shirey | Design Editor

By Thomas Moran | Staff Writer

Coffee consumption among millennials and centennials is higher than any previous generation, and the modern college campus has become the center of consumption, according to research by Datassential. The enjoyment of coffee for coffee’s sake has taken a back seat to the utility it offers young adults in stressful academic environments.

The study says millennials account for around 44 percent of coffee consumption in the United States, and around 48 percent of 18 to 24 year olds consume it on a daily basis. The research also established that coffee consumption is becoming more common among younger and younger crowds.

With three Starbucks locations across Baylor’s campus and several other coffee-supplying businesses around campus, caffeinated beverages are highly accessible to the student body.

Houston sophomore Rebecca Lanier said she drinks four to six cups of black coffee every day. Whether Starbucks or home-brewed, coffee is both a useful tool for energy and something she enjoys in most forms.

“It’s my favorite drink in the world …” Lanier said. “I don’t think I could change it even if I wanted to.”

Concerned that it might impact her sleep, Lanier tries not to drink coffee after 5 p.m. and opts for decaf if she does.

Fortunately for students like Lanier, Stan Wilfong, a lecturer in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, said coffee consumption is not as negative as it is cracked out to be. In fact, coffee consumption can have significant positive effects if consumed in moderation.

“It can increase focus,” Wilfong said. “It’s actually been shown to benefit folks with ADHD in terms of being able to focus … It’ll help you stay awake if you need to stay awake to some extent.”

It also has less health impacts on younger people because their bodies are able to metabolize caffeine efficiently, Wilfong said.

Unfortunately, the news is not all good for caffeine-addicted students.

In the short term, coffee consumption can disrupt sleep patterns, increase feelings of nervousness and prompt migraines, Wilfong said. While it does not dehydrate the consumer, it is a mild diuretic which can be an inconvenience.

In the long term, it may lead to increased secretion of acid in the stomach of the consumer and potentially certain gastrointestinal illnesses, Wilfong said.

Ultimately, healthy caffeine consumption looks completely different between individuals and temperance is key.

“Everything in moderation, for the most part, is just fine, unless there are some genetic conditions that would cause it to be an issue,” Wilfong said.

According to Wilfong, three to five cups is usually OK, though some studies have reached different conclusions.

If caffeine is negatively impacting one’s sleep, Wilfong encourages students to find time to exercise in the middle of the day and substitute a book instead of blue screens at nighttime.

“Drink coffee. Enjoy coffee. Just do so in moderation,” Wilfong said.