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Does caffeine affect our health?

Press release issued: 12 October 2004

One of the largest studies in the world looking at how caffeine in our diet may affect health, well-being and sleep patterns starts in Bristol this week.

One of the largest studies in the world looking at how caffeine in our diet may affect health, well-being and sleep patterns starts in Bristol this week. The study is being carried out by researchers in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol.

The Dietary Caffeine and Health Study is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), which is one of the leading funding agencies for academic research and training in biosciences at universities and institutes throughout the UK.

The study is particularly important because caffeine, found mainly in coffee, tea and cola, is 'the most widely consumed drug in the world', yet little is known about the amount of caffeine consumed in the UK and the implications for health.

Sixteen thousand men and women will be chosen at random from the electoral register within Bristol postcodes BS1 to BS16.  Participants will be sent a pack asking them to take part in the study, whether or not they consume caffeine.  The pack contains information about the study together with a questionnaire.

The study will investigate how much caffeine is consumed in the diet; how many caffeine free drinks are consumed; how people feel the caffeine in tea, coffee and cola affects them; what people think about caffeine, if at all; where people consume caffeine; how caffeine affects sleep and if people have any adverse effects after consuming.

Peter Rogers, Professor of Biological Psychology and Head of the Department of Experimental Psychology, said: "The consumption of tea is a national institution in the UK and coffee houses have sprung up all over our high streets.

"However, ask anyone how much caffeine they consume in their diets and they'll find it hard to answer.  We need people's help to increase our understanding of caffeine and the effects on health, well-being and sleep."

All data collected during the study will be kept confidential and anonymous and will only be used in this project. Names and addresses will not be passed to any other source.

The Department of Experimental Psychology is well known for its research on caffeine and is one of the leading Departments in the country looking at caffeine and dietary influences. For information about the study or queries about the questionnaire contact a member of the research team on 0117 954 6629 or email caffeine-survey@bristol.ac.uk

People who participate in the study will be entered into a prize draw and will have the opportunity to win ten prizes of £50 shopping vouchers.

The Department of Experimental Psychology in the recent government review of teaching attained 23 out of 24, indicating excellence in teaching. In the national Research Assessment Exercise 2001 the Department achieved the highest possible score of 5*A in acknowledgment of the strength, depth and international quality of its research.