Drinking alcohol with diet mixers, compared to non-diet mixers, promotes a quicker high blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This is because artificial sweeteners increase the absorption of alcohol. Thus, using diet mixers might lead to an increased risk of alcohol-related problems.
Researchers tested this hypothesis. They also collected data on the prevalence of this practice among a sample of college students. In addition, the investigators explored factors possibly associated with using diet mixers.
Participants were 686 undergraduates, of whom 73% were women. They completed anonymous self-reports. Researchers collected information on the use of diet mixers, alcohol-related problems, eating behaviors while drinking, sensation seeking, body mass index (BMI), and demographics.
About 36% of the sample reported drinking alcohol with diet mixers. Most did so at least once a month. Those who reported such mixing had more alcohol-related problems. And, the more often they consumed in this way, the more problems they reported. These relationships persisted after controlling for typical drinking level and sensation seeking.
There were no differences between drinking alcohol with diet mixers and gender, eating behaviors while drinking, and BMI.
Drinking alcohol with diet mixers may be a risk factor for alcohol-related problems.
Stamates, A., et al. Mixing alcohol with artificially sweetened beverages: Prevalence and correlates among college students. Addict Behav, 2016, 62, 79-82.
Marczinski, C., and Stamates, A. Artificial sweeteners versus regular mixers Increase breath alcohol concentrations in male and female social drinkers. Alco Clin Exper Res, 2013, 37(4), 696-702.
Marczinski, C. Commentary on Rossheim and Thombs (2011): artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and alcohol intoxication in bar patrons. Alco Clin Exp Res, 2011, 35(10), 1729-1731.
Rossheim, M., and Thombs, T. Artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and alcohol intoxication in bar patrons. Alc Clin Exp Res, 2011, 35(10), 1891-1896.
Stamates, A., et al. Effects of artificial sweeteners on breath alcohol concentrations in male and female social drinkers. Drug Alco Depend, 2015, 157, 197-199.
Wu, K., et al. Artificially sweetened versus regular mixers increase gastric emptying and alcohol absorption. Am J Med, 2006, 119(9), 802-804.