Energy Drinks Linked to Alcohol Problems in College Students

High-frequency energy drinkers have doubled risk of alcohol dependence versus nonusers

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Frequent consumption of energy drinks is associated with a higher risk of alcohol dependence in college students, according to research published online Nov. 12 in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Amelia M. Arria, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,097 fourth-year college students participating in a longitudinal study. Participants discussed their consumption of energy drinks and patterns of alcohol use.

The researchers found that 51.3 percent of the students drank energy drinks on one to 51 days in the previous year (classified as low-frequency) and 10.1 percent consumed them more often and were dubbed high-frequency users. High-frequency users had a higher risk of alcohol dependence than nonusers or low-frequency users (adjusted odds ratios, 2.4 and 1.86, respectively).

"The present finding that frequent consumption of energy drinks -- but not other caffeinated beverages -- contributes to increased risk for alcohol dependence adds more urgency for policymakers to adopt and enforce measures that would separate the consumption of these two beverages. If our findings are replicated, labeling of energy drink products that caution against mixing alcohol and energy drinks might be warranted, and vendors could be required to limit sales of energy drinks and cocktails made with them to patrons who are intoxicated," the authors write.

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