To our knowledge, research has not examined the effects of alcohol mixers that contain both an artificial sweetener and caffeine, that is, diet cola. Therefore, we assessed the event-specific association between diet cola consumption and alcohol intoxication in bar patrons. We sought to determine whether putative increases in blood alcohol, produced by accelerated gastric emptying following diet cola consumption, as identified in the laboratory, also appear in a natural setting associated with impaired driving.
After adjusting for the number of drinks consumed and other potential confounders, number of diet cola mixed drinks had a significant association with patron intoxication (β = 0.233, p < 0.0001). Number of drinks mixed with regular (sucrose-sweetened) cola and energy drinks did not have significant associations with intoxication (p > 0.05).
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