CAFFEINE (noun) 1. A mild stimulant to the central nervous system, found in coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, and other products.

DON'T FILL THE TANK

If you're drinking coffee to stay alert, new research suggests that spreading your consumption over the course of the day is more effective than filling your tank with a giant cup in the morning. Instead of that 16 oz. monster, try drinking a 2 oz. to 3 oz. cup every hour or so.

ONE FOR THE ROAD

It's always nice to offer coffee at the end of an event, but remember: Coffee will not help your attendees sober up after drinking alcohol.

DRINK UP

The September issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch confirms what many researchers have said for years: Moderate coffee intake — a few cups a day — does not cause harm, and there may be benefits from those uplifting sips. Research says that regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than those who don't drink coffee. And what's more, coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, discourage the development of colon cancer, improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease, and reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease.

WHO SWIPED THE JOE?

Caffeine is habit forming, not addictive, yet some people will do anything for a fix. Meeting planners often have to deal with visitors to their coffee-break stations who are clearly not part of their group. One strategy used by some meeting organizers is to print up cards that can be handed out to the offenders: “This coffee service is for participants at the XYZ conference. The average cost per attendee is $XX, which is covered by their registration fees and the host organization. We realize that it is tempting to take advantage of these services, but we imagine that nonregistrants simply don't understand how much it costs us.”

JITTER BUG

Coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine per 6 oz. cup (Starbuck's smallest is a 12 oz. cup) compared to brewed tea, which is typically about 70 mg per 6 oz. cup, or colas (Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, etc.) at about 50 mg per 12 oz. can. Caffeine specialty drinks such as Jolt have about 70 mg per 12 oz. can.

Sources: Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu/women; www.howstuffworks.com; McKinley Health Center, www.mckinley.uiuc.edu

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