To the Editor.
—In a recent issue of JAMA, evidence was reported on the existence of caffeine dependence.1 In an accompanying Editorial, Dr Glass2 noted that a key finding was the existence of a compulsive pattern of caffeine use associated in many cases with physiological dependence. He also noted that because of the small and unrepresentative sample, the study provided little evidence on the prevalence of the phenomenon. In this letter we report research on another type of evidence for the prevalence of compulsive caffeine use: aggregate data on caffeine consumption.Economics Nobel Laureate Gary Becker has suggested that a great deal of compulsive consumption could be explained by the "rational addiction" hypothesis, ie, (1) current consumption has a long-lasting, though eventually decaying, effect on future tastes and preferences; and (2) consumers are rational and forward-looking and take into account the effect of current consumption on their future
Olekalns N, Bardsley P. Caffeine Dependence Syndrome. JAMA. 1995;273(18):1417-1418. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520420029021