Red Bull May Be Hurt by Alcohol Consumption Study

Douglas A. McIntyre
July 21, 2014

The journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has just published a study that concludes that combining energy drinks with alcohol tends to increase overall desire to drink more, compared to when people drink alcohol alone. The research is particularly damning for Red Bull, because its product was used as the energy drink portion of the study.

According to the research:

Participants received a cocktail containing either 60 ml of vodka and a Red Bull® Silver Edition energy drink (alcohol+energy drink condition) or 60 ml of vodka with a soda water vehicle (alcohol-only condition).

And, Combining energy drinks with alcohol increased the urge to drink alcohol relative to drinking alcohol alone.

The mixing of energy drinks and alcohol has been under siege by scientists for some time. Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy have been the primary targets, almost certainly because of their tremendous overall sales.

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One of the defenses Red Bull has used, and one that is reasonable, is that the "energy drink" factor in Coke and Pepsi is not substantially different. The overall effects of these more popular drinks, they have argued, represent a larger health risk because they are available in an extremely large number of American homes. There is, Red Bull would argue, no reason to exclude caffeinated and sugary drinks from these tests. As a matter of fact, the exclusion only helps cover the fact that Coke is little different from Red Bull, at least insofar as health risks are involved.

It turns out to be an interesting battle with health experts and regulators. Soda and energy drinks get to be traded off with one another, study after study, based on which are the most dangerous when mixed with alcohol. The alcohol itself gets moved from center stage in some studies. So, the spirits industry gets some reprieve ... until the research comes back around to focusing on alcohol.

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