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Caffeinated Fruity Alcoholic Beverages Blamed for Spike in Alcohol-Related Hospitalizations

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New research to be presented at next weekÕs International Conference on Drugs and Young Peopleshows that many 12-17year olds are attracted to drinking alcoholic energy drinks (AEDs), especially when they look like soft drinks or regular energy drinks.

The research undertaken by the University of Wollongong presents the views of Australian adolescents talking about alcohol energy drinks. These products Ð which combine alcohol, soft drinks, and ingredients such as caffeine and guarana Ð are a relatively new entry to the alcopop market.

Almost half of those surveyed (43%) agreed that they would be more likely to purchase an alcohol product if it looked similar to a soft drink and one-third that they would be more likely to purchase an alcohol product if it contained energy ingredients, such as caffeine, guarana or taurine.

ÒOur findings demonstrate that the taste, packaging, and pricing of AEDs are appealing to young people. This, combined with international evidence on the harms associated with their consumption, suggests that these products should be removed from shelves,Ó said Professor Sandra Jones, Director, Centre for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong.

The combination of the energy drink (a stimulant) with alcohol (a depressant) is a recipe for harm. The stimulant makes the drinker feel awake and alert, which means they are able to continue drinking but are less aware of the amount of alcohol consumed. As a result, despite being highly intoxicated, they may feel that they are sober enough to continue drinking, making decisions, and even driving.

Professor Jones is also concerned that AEDs are packaged in a way that is similar to non-alcoholic energy drinks and sold for approximately the same price. The results of this study are being presented at the Australian Drug FoundationÕs 6th International Conference on Drugs and Young People next week.

Celebrating more than 50 years of service to the community, the Australian Drug Foundation is AustraliaÕs leading body committed to preventing alcohol and other drug problems in communities around the nation.


Australian Drug Foundation

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