Nav: Home

Low-priced alcopops pose high risk especially for youth, new study recommends regulation

June 12, 2019

Supersized alcopops are ready-to-drink flavored alcoholic beverages with high alcohol content. Drinking just one of the 23.5 oz. cans constitutes binge drinking. Drinking multiple cans can lead to alcohol poisoning and death. Four Loko is the leading brand of supersized alcopop consumed by underage drinkers. A new study led by George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) found that Four Loko is among the cheapest ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages available in the United States. Due to the link between lower alcohol prices and higher consumption and related harms, particularly among youth, this is a public health concern.

CHHS Assistant Professor Dr. Matthew Rossheim led the study that examined Four Loko's retail price in large U.S. cities. CHHS students in the Department of Global and Community Health Kayla McDonald, Reema Ahmad, and Sieka Siklo were co-authors. The study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

These supersized alcopops are popular among underage youth, and a single 23.5 oz. can contains about three times the alcohol content of a regular beer. Moreover, they are sold in containers twice as large, so they have the alcohol content of a six-pack of beer and retail for less than $3. According to the researchers, it is urgently important that the high alcohol-by-volume (abv) in these products be reduced, they are banned altogether, or their price is increased, so that young people can't obtain a lethal dose of sugar-sweetened alcohol for $10.

"It is unsafe for anyone to consume a single can of Four Loko in one sitting, let alone minors who have less drinking experience and lower body weight," cautions Rossheim. "Regulatory agencies should reduce the availability and alcohol-by-volume of these products and increase their retail price in order to reduce and prevent unsafe alcohol consumption."

This study collected data from a random sample of stores in the largest city of each state and in Washington, D.C. Retailers were interviewed about Four Loko availability, volume, abv, price for one can, and discounts for buying more than one can.

The manufacturer of Four Loko has ignored requests from 17 State Attorneys General to reduce the high alcohol content of these products. To the contrary, they have recently introduced even higher abv products.

The researchers recommend passing legislation that improves regulation on Four Loko and other supersized alcopops. This would include increasing their price, removing them from the types of stores that underage youth have access to (e.g., gas stations and convenience stores), and launching an investigation from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on whether these products meet the federal definition for beer or manufacturers are evading federal and state taxes.

This summer, Rossheim will also be leading eye-tracking research to examine alcohol product packaging's appeal to youth.
-end-
About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia's largest and most diverse public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 37,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. For more information, visit https://www2.gmu.edu/.

About the College of Health and Human Services

George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) prepares students to become leaders and shape the public's health through academic excellence, professional service, and innovative practice and research initiatives. CHHS enrolls 1,917 undergraduate students and 950 graduate students in its nationally-recognized offerings, including: 5 undergraduate degrees, 12 graduate degrees, and 11 certificate programs. CHHS is moving toward the goal of becoming a global college of public health in the near future. For more information, visit https://chhs.gmu.edu/.

George Mason University

Related Alcohol Articles:

This is your brain on alcohol (video)
It's almost time to ring in 2017. And since most New Year's celebrations include alcohol, Reactions' latest episode explains the chemistry behind its effects -- drunkenness, frequent bathroom breaks and occasionally poor decision-making.
Heavy alcohol use changes adolescents' brain
Heavy alcohol use during adolescence alters the development of brain, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital.
Maryland's 2011 alcohol sales tax reduced alcohol sales, study suggests
Maryland's 2011 increase in the alcohol sales tax appears to have led to fewer purchases of beer, wine and liquor in the state, suggesting reduced alcohol use, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research indicates.
Alcohol related deaths are likely to increase after cuts in alcohol taxation
Alcohol related deaths are most likely set to increase in England as incomes outstrip rises in taxation, argue experts in The BMJ today.
Alcohol aromatherapy eases nausea in the ER
Nauseated patients in the emergency department who sniffed pads saturated with isopropyl alcohol were twice as likely to obtain relief from their symptoms as nauseated patients who sniffed pads saturated with saline solution, according to a study published online today in Annals of Emergency Medicine ('Isopropyl Alcohol Nasal Inhalation for Nausea in the Emergency Department: A Randomized Controlled Trial').
More Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...