Energy drinks boost desire to drink alcohol

22 July 2014 | News | By Bureau Report

Mixing of alcohol with energy drinks can boost people’s desire to keep drinking alcohol, according to a research by Dr Rebecca McKetin and Alice Coen of Australian National University’s Centre for Research on Ageing, Health & Wellbeing. The findings of the research were released recently.

"A number of cross-sectional studies shows that young adults who mix alcohol with energy drinks (A+ED) have higher levels of alcohol consumption than their peers who don't mix energy drinks with alcohol, and some studies suggest that this practice increases the risk of 'binge drinking. However, it may simply be the case that people who drink more often are more likely to drink A+EDs among other things. Yet if it is the case that energy drinks increase binge drinking, the popularity of A+EDs could exacerbate alcohol-related harms among young people, particularly harms related to intoxication, such as car accidents and injuries from fights or falls," said Dr McKetin.

Study authors assigned 75 participants (46 women, 29 men) aged 18 to 30 years to an alcohol-only or A+ED condition in a double-blind randomised pre-versus post-test experiment. Participants received a cocktail containing either 60 ml of vodka or a Red Bull silver edition energy drink or 60 ml of vodka with soda water; both cocktails also contained 200 ml of a fruit drink. The primary outcome measure was the Alcohol Urge Questionnaire that was taken at pre-test and 20 minutes later at post-test. Other measures taken at post-test were the Biphasic Alcohol Effects Questionnaire, the Drug Effects Questionnaire, and breath alcohol concentration (BAC).

"We found that when people drink A+EDs that they have a stronger desire to keep drinking than if they drank alcohol on its own. This would mean that someone who drinks A+EDs would want to keep drinking more than their friends who don't. What we can't say is whether this translates into people drinking more. Obviously other factors would play a role there people can over-ride their desires and many things play into a decision about whether someone would keep drinking or not. However, if it did translate into greater alcohol consumption, we would expect to see people who drink A+EDs drinking more than their peers who don't," said Dr McKetin.

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