Dutch study reports alcohol and energy drink combinations reduce alcohol consumption

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th November 2012

A new Dutch study has compared alcohol consumption alone against alcohol mixed with energy drinks and has purportedly found that alcohol and energy drink combinations decrease overall alcohol consumption and its negative effects.

While several health organisations have been calling for tighter regulation of the energy drink industry, the study concluded that alcohol and energy drink mixes “do not have an effect on subjective intoxication.”

The study of 6002 students from the Utrecht University and the College of Utrecht found that students who consumed alcohol mixed with energy drinks compared to just alcohol alone consumed fewer alcoholic drinks in the average day and experienced fewer days being drunk in a month. The study found that those that consumed alcohol and energy drink mixes had significantly fewer drinking days in the previous month (1.4 days) compared to those that drank alcohol alone (9.2 days.)

The report also found that when consuming alcohol and energy drink mixes, significantly fewer alcohol-related consequences were reported (2.6) for the previous year. These included driving a car while intoxicated, taking foolish risks, or being injured or hurt, as compared with alcohol-related consequences when consuming alcohol alone (4.9).

The study’s authors said that previous studies on alcohol and energy drink consumption had not used a large enough sample size, and therefore had formed the conclusion that alcohol and energy drink mixes led to higher alcohol consumption.

The survey was supported by a grant from Austrian-based Red Bull, which is a major marketer of caffeinated beverages. However, the report states that Red Bull was not involved in the design and implementation of the study; with the collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or with preparation of the manuscript.

Although the Red Bull brand has not directly come under fire recently, several other energy drink brands have been scrutinised for hospitalisations and deaths, reportedly also connected with alcohol. Earlier this month, the American Food and Drug Administration launched an investigation into two energy drink brands linked to a collective total of 18 deaths and 93 hospitalisations.

The Utrecht Student Survey will be replicated in the USA, Australia, and the UK in the future. Results will be pooled, but also examined for possible cross-cultural differences.