Juiced, in More Ways than One

Four Loko. Four MaXed, Joose…. Fun-sounding words to some people, but these alcoholic energy drinks are often responsible for some not-so-fun results. If you don’t follow the news, you may have missed the story last month about several Central Washington University students ending up in the hospital after ingesting Four Loko at a college party.canned drink.jpg 

The New York Times described the drink as a ‘fruit-flavored malt beverage.” According to an AOL article, Four Loko contains 12 percent alcohol along with caffeine.  (Wikipedia says alcohol content varies by state, however.) One problem is that people don’t feel the effects of the alcohol initially because of the caffeine. Another problem has to do with the amount ingested—if someone chugs, say, three Four Lokos, it can be the same as drinking 18 beers. So it’s understandable that the party goers got violently ill. Four Loko didn’t get its nickname, Blackout in a Can, for nothing.

Did I really just use a euphemism? Got violently ill? Heck, the students showed “symptoms of life-threatening overdose or intoxication”, according to the AOL article. They could have died. How many more college students have to die for marketers to stop developing products like this, geared to attract young people? One college, Ramapo College in NJ (my state), banned this type of energy drink on campus after some of its students also ended up in the hospital after drinking them.

I can’t help getting angry when I hear about controversial products like this because it means that marketers don’t seem to care what they are doing to young people. (Of course the companies resent being criticized.) I was glad to read that Attorneys General have investigated some of the companies that produce these drinks, questioning their marketing tactics.

This is from a syndicated 2009 Chicago Tribune article:  

“Attorneys general from up to 25 states scored a victory in December against caffed-up, high-alcohol brews when MillerCoors, under pressure from the officials, agreed to suck the stimulants out of its Sparks beverage, the market leader. Anheuser-Busch also agreed to do the same with its Tilt and Bud Extra brews.”

Just this weekend Michigan became the first state to ban the sale of Four Loko.  According to several publications, 18 attorneys general have urged the FDA to determine whether Four Loko is safe.  

I’m keeping my fingers crossed about the outcome.

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