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Diet soda mixers lead to faster intoxication, study finds

While many people often choose drinks mixed with diet sodas in an effort to cut calories, a new study has shown that the effects of such choices may be more significant than one might imagine.

Researchers used a small sample - 16 individuals - to study the effect of alcohol on the body when mixed with regular soda and diet soda. The participants were between the ages of 21 and 33. On three separate occasions, they were given beverages with different compositions:

  • Vodka mixed with regular soda
  • Vodka mixed with diet soda
  • A placebo, containing mostly regular soda and a small amount of alcohol

Thereafter, the researchers measured the participants' breath alcohol concentration, to determine the effect of the cocktails. The study revealed that the drinks mixed with diet soda had a stronger effect on the participants. In fact, the participants' BAC was approximately 18 percent higher less than an hour after consuming the diet beverage rather than the vodka mixed with regular soda.

The research also revealed that the reaction time of those who had consumed diet drinks was slower than when the participants had drinks mixed with regular soda. Nevertheless, the participants did not appear to notice a difference in their level of intoxication after consuming the drinks with the different types of mixers.

Although the researchers believe more studies are needed to solidify their findings, they had an explanation for their results. The sugar found in regular sodas is digested as food in the body, slowing the time it takes for alcohol to reach the small intestine - where it is then absorbed. In contrast, diet sodas use artificial sweeteners, which are not treated the same way as sugar in the body.

Source: Fox News, "Diet or regular? Choice of alcohol mixer affects intoxication," Rachael Rettner, February 6, 2013.

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