Date PostedNovember 14, 2013

Research Shows Mixing Energy Drinks and Alcohol more Risky than Previously Thought

Research has recently emerged which shows that mixing alcohol with energy drinks could be riskier than previously thought.

According to a leading psychologist, Associate Professor Peter Miller from Deakin University, the actual risks of mixing alcohol with energy drinks, as is often done among young people, has not been sufficiently researched, something the Professor attributes to ethical constraints which have meant that studies into energy drink and alcohol consumption can only involve small amounts of alcohol, which makes determining the actual risks more difficult to deduce. Obviously the risks are higher when people drink at higher levels.

A poll taken by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) shows that 46 per cent of 18-24 year olds consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks as compared with only 16 per cent of the rest of the population.

Perhaps even more concerning are statistical studies which show that energy drinkers are more likely to drink excessively, become aggressive, become injured or engage in some or the other form of risky behaviour.  In fact some research which concluded that the combination of alcohol and energy drinks is not dangerous, has according to Professor Miller,been funded by Red Bull, placing their credibility in question. An excerpt from a post on explains:

alcohol-red-bull-160913At a recent conference in Australia, four out of five researchers who presented findings on alcohol and energy drinks had some form of financial support from Red Bull, who often paid for the researchers to attend conferences and present their favourable findings.

“Red Bull has, to my knowledge, been supportive of some researchers, contacting them as soon as they hear of their research,” Professor Miller wrote in the British Medical Journal.

“It has also funded some research, though none of these studies to my knowledge has experimentally investigated the effects of more than a single 250ml energy drink. Having the same speakers funded to attend conferences around the world by a company with strong financial interests raises questions of propriety and the presentation of research findings being used as a commercial marketing strategy.”


According to FARE’s director of policy and research, Caterina Giorgi preliminary research findings are concerning because they show that energy drinks mask the effects of intoxication when mixed with alcohol. So people aren’t given the “signals” which tell them that they have had enough and it’s time to go home.

The caffeine and guarana in energy drinks means that when people would normally become tired and stop drinking and return home, they now are more energised and the tiredness is masked so they continue drinking to exceptionally high levels which is risky.

Giorgi went on to call for more regulation to protect people. She went on to explain in the post:

“In WA the liquor licensing commissioner has imposed restrictions on some licensed premises in the city, which are that you can’t sell energy drinks mixed with alcohol after midnight,” he said.

“In Norway you can only buy energy drinks in pharmacies. The EU requires energy drinks to have a label that say ‘high caffeine content’. We need restrictions on when they can be sold in licenced venues and also labels and information about what’s in them and how to avoid consuming them in a risky way.”


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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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