Background: To explore associations between energy drink consumption and alcohol use among college students.
Methods: Participants included 585 students (m age=18.7; 47.0% White, 21% Hispanic, 25% Asian, 7% other race/ethnicity; 56.0% female). Energy drink behaviors included past month and past week consumption. Alcohol use behaviors included past month and past two week consumption, as well as heavy drinking and quantity of alcohol consumed. Consumption of energy drinks mixed with alcohol was also measured. Linear and logistic regression analyses between energy drink consumption and alcohol use were run controlling for gender, age, and race/ethnicity.
Results: For each one unit increase in past month (i.e., additional day used) energy drink use, the likelihood of past month alcohol use increased by 80%, heavy drinking by 80% and past month energy drinks mixed with alcohol use by 90%. Similar results were found for past week energy drink use. A positive relationship between energy drink use and quantity of alcohol consumed during a single episode of drinking was also found (p<0.001). Significant gender interactions between energy drink consumption and alcohol use as well as quantity of alcohol consumed were found, with relationships stronger among males than females. There were no significant interactions by race/ethnicity.
Conclusions: Energy drinks are readily available to students and pose potential health risks. Students who report greater energy drink consumption also consume more alcohol, are more likely to mix energy drinks and alcohol, and experience heavy episodes of drinking, which is problematic given the potential negative consequences of these drinks.
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