The results of a new study indicate that artificial sweeteners, like those found in diet sodas, actually increase blood alcohol concentrations in male and female social drinkers.
The study was conducted by doctors at Northern Kentucky University. The results were published in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Eight men and eight women, between the ages of 21 and 33 years old, and are social drinkers participated in the study. People who are infrequent drinkers were excluded from the study. Also excluded were people with diabetes, psychiatric disorders, head trauma or any other injuries to the central nervous system, as well as anyone who has substance abuse problems.
Participants came to three different sessions and were given random drinks and then had their blood alcohol content measured. The drinks consumed were either vodka and Squirt soda, vodka and Diet Squirt soda or vodka and a placebo drink. The drinks contained 1.97 ml/kg vodka mixed with 3.94 ml/kg of the soda or placebo. The vodka used in the drinks was 40 proof.
It was found that participants who consumed the drinks with the diet soda had significantly higher blood alcohol contents than those that consumed the drinks made with regular soda. The actual levels measured averaged 18 percent higher. Those same people also showed signs of greater impairment and slower reaction times.
The study concluded that diet soda mixed with alcohol results in higher blood alcohol contents than regular soda mixed with alcohol.
The results of the study confirm other related findings from previous studies done about how diet sodas can affect blood alcohol levels. In 2011, a group of researchers surveyed people who were leaving bars and asked participants to share what and how much they had drank, and allow researchers to take breath samples. This study also found that those who had consumed alcoholic beverages made with diet soda had higher blood alcohol readings.