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Diet drinks...easy on the waist, hard on the head

The proliferation of diet drinks into the alcoholic beverage industry has inspired a new market. Drinks suited for young women who want to maintain their figures. Perhaps the most popular is the Skinnygirl product line released by Bethenny Frankel. Outside of officially licensed drinks, more people are including diet sodas to create mixed drinks, ostensibly to reduce their caloric intake.

However, a recent study found that cutting calories may lead to quicker intoxication. Researchers at Northern Kentucky University observed a dozen subjects who drank vodka mixed with Squirt (a lemon-lime soda with natural sweeteners) in one session, and then drank vodka with diet Squirt (with artificial sweeteners) in a separate session.

After several drinks, the subjects' blood alcohol content was measured. With the drinks containing sugar, the peak level was .07, just under the legal limit. With the drinks made with diet soda, the BAC was .091, which would be criminal offense.

The researchers found that the additional calories produced by the sugary drink slowed down the metabolic process, so that the alcohol was not absorbed as quickly. Conversely, the diet soda did not have many calories, so the alcohol was released at a higher rate.

Cecile Marczinski, the study's author, explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer that people may think that cutting calories is important, but they may be doing themselves a disservice when using diet drinks because the alcohol travels faster to the liver and brain. Essentially, they may be getting drunk faster even though they are taking in fewer calories.

With more women likely to use diet drinks with alcohol, this is an important consideration.

Source: Philly.com, Diet drinks as mixers may make for more potent cocktails, February 5, 2013

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