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A hoax or worth the money?
Schapmann tests validity of energy drink claims in research sample
Sarah Mulder
Antelope Staff

The two-ounce bottle of liquid claims to increase your endurance and concentration and put you in a better mood.

Last summer, Adam Schapmann, a senior biology major, began studying the claims of 5-Hour Energy drink, a drink blend of B-vitamins, amino acids and nutrients that claims to contain as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.

“Since I’m a PA (physician’s assistant) student, I’m always interested in different human physiology, particularly drugs and other substances that come up,” the Tilden native and two-time 5-Hour Energy drink consumer said. “Energy drinks, I kind of wanted to see if they were a hoax or if they were something good for you. It sounds good on the label and everything, but until you really study it you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The study is a requirement for his Biology 420 class at UNK. He will present his research to biology faculty and students. He will also present the study to the Nebraska Academy of Sciences in Lincoln in April as part of his senior study for the Honors Program.

To test the endurance, concentration and mood claims of 5-Hour Energy, Schapmann used five student test subjects.

He utilized a digit cancellation test to examine the concentration claim. The test is a page full of numbers. Schapmann then asked the subjects to cross off as many of a certain number as they could in 30 seconds. The subjects would take the test before and after drinking 5-Hour Energy to test for variation.

Schapmann used a visual analog mood scale for his subjects to rate their mood before and after drinking 5-Hour Energy. For the endurance claim, the subjects were asked to ride a stationary bike and were timed as to how long they could pedal.

Then, the subjects drank 5-Hour Energy to see if their time increased.

Schapmann said the study has been fun to work on because it involves other disciplines. He said he used the Human Performance Lab to complete the endurance test and had help from a psychology professor for the mood test.

Even though Schapmann is currently in the interpreting data stage of his research, the project took longer than he expected. He thought he would be done in two or three months, but he recently finished his last test – the endurance test.

Another question Schapmann hoped to answer through his research was whether the product was cost effective.

“You pay $2.50 for two ounces. It is really worth your money?”

He said the reaction to his study has been one of shock and excitement.

“Every college student drinks a lot of coffee for studying late at night. A lot of people actually use energy drinks or caffeine pills,” he said. “Everyone’s kind of interested (in the study). It’s kind of a fun subject to do. It’s kind of a practical commodity. You see it everywhere.”

He said the most interesting thing he learned throughout his research is that human subjects are random.

“You can’t ever predict them,” he said. “You can schedule a date to do something but people cancel out, people get sick, people have prior obligations. Nothing works perfectly.”

Schapmann said the results of his study showed that although some people showed improvements in certain areas after drinking 5-Hour Energy, the data is not significant because his test subject pool was too small. He hopes someone will continue with the study and use a larger group to test the same claims.

Schapmann’s study, along with other studies done by students in Biology 420, will be on display in Bruner Hall a week before classes end.


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