People who mix alcohol and diet drinks end up with more alcohol on their breath, according to a new study.
People who drank vodka mixed with diet soda had higher alcohol concentrations on their breath than those who drank the same amount of vodka mixed with regular soda, researchers wrote in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Crime-prevention materials should include this information so that people know that by trying to avoid some extra calories in a mixed drink, they risk having higher breath-alcohol concentrations, wrote the researchers, led by Amy Stamates of Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, near Cincinnati.
For the new study, researchers had 10 men and 10 women ages 21 to 30 drink five different mixed-beverage combinations over five sessions. The drinks contained varying amounts of vodka and either diet or regular sweetened soda. One drink was just regular soda alone.
The researchers then measured the alcohol concentrations in the participants’ breaths for three hours.
They found higher concentrations of alcohol — as much as 25 percent greater — on the breaths of the participants when they drank the mixed beverages containing diet soda.
Researchers say the findings may be particularly relevant to young women, who are most likely to use diet beverages in their mixed drinks.
Dr. Chris Rayner, a gastroenterologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia, said that so-called gastric emptying is likely the reason for higher alcohol concentrations in the participants’ breaths.
In a previous study, Rayner found alcohol left the stomach and entered the bloodstream faster when people used diet drinks in their mixed beverages, compared with regularly sweetened drinks.
Rayner, who was not involved in the new study, said the effects of alcohol are mitigated if consumed with nutrients such as sugar, because it slows the entry of alcohol into the small intestine, where it is absorbed by the body.