Jun 12, 2019 04:54 PM EDT
A ready-to-drink flavored alcoholic beverage with high alcoholic content is the supersized alcopops. By taking just one of the 23.5 oz. cans constitute binge drinking. Consuming multiple cans can lead to alcohol poisoning, and death. The leading brand of supersized alcopop is four Loko and consumed by underage drinkers.
According to a new study led by George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), it suggested that Four Loko is among the cheapest ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages available in the United States. Because of the connection between lower-alcohol prices and higher consumption and related harms, particularly among youth, this situation is a public health concern.
Dr. Mathew Rossheim, CHHS Assistant Professor, 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. They published the study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Among underage youth, these supersized alcopops are popular, and a single 23.5 oz. can contains about three times the alcohol content of a regular beer. Also, they are sold in containers twice as large, so they have the alcohol content of a six-pack of beer and retails for less than $3. According to the researchers, it is urgently essential 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.
Rossheim cautioned that 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. Regulatory agencies should reduce the availability and alcohol-by-volume of these products and increase their retail price to reduce and prevent unsafe alcohol consumption.
Researchers used the data collected from a random sample of stories in the largest city of each state and Washington, D.C. They interviewed retailers about Fur Loko availability, volume, abv, the 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 team recommends passing legislation that improves regulation on Four Loko and other supersized alcopops. This action would include increasing their price, removing them from the types of stores that underage youth have access like gas stations, and conveniences 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.
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