Effects of Caffeine Ingestion on Human Standing Balance: A Systematic Review of Placebo-Controlled Trials
Caffeine ingestion may influence balance control via numerous mechanisms. Although previously investigated using various study designs and methods, here we aimed to create the first evidence-based consensus regarding the effects of caffeine on the control of upright stance via systematic review (PROSPERO registration CRD42021226939). Embase, PubMed/MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus and Web of Science databases were searched on 27 January 2021 to identify placebocontrolled trials investigating caffeine-induced changes in human standing balance. Reference lists of eligible studies were also searched. Overall, nine studies involving a total of 290 participants were included. All studies were moderate to strong in quality according to the QualSyst tool. Balancerelated outcome measures were collected across a range of different participant ages, stances and sensory conditions. The results show that younger participants’ balance was generally unaffected by caffeine ingestion. However, a significant balance impairment was observed following caffeine ingestion in all studies involving older participants (average age >65 years). Our results therefore suggest an age-dependent effect of caffeine ingestion on human standing. Further research into this effect is warranted as only one study has directly compared younger and older adults. Nonetheless, an important implication of our findings is that caffeine ingestion may increase fall risk in older adults. Furthermore, based on our findings, caffeine ingestion should be considered as a potential confounding factor when assessing human standing balance, particularly in older adults.
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