You may have heard that back in its caffeinated heyday, demon swill Four Loko had the desirable quality of bestowing powerful intoxicating/agitating effects on its consumers.
Don't remember? Don't worry. Science remembers.
NPR reports on a new study published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine today (the study itself hasn't posted yet; Annals staff tells me to be patient) that looks at 11 cases of young people geting Loko'd up and ending up in the emergency room.
The conclusion: Four Loko + young binge drinkers = bad.
New York University pediatrician Deborah Levine, the study's lead author, says that once the marketing campaign for the fruit-flavored canned drink got rolling in 2010, she and her colleagues began to see young people in the ER in a highly intoxicated state. "Several of these cases stood out: one kid was found on the subway tracks, another was unconscious at school," Levine tells Shots. "These were exceptions to the typical Friday night teenage intoxication. These were more extreme and hazardous circumstances."
Binge-drinking teens doing stupid and/or dangerous things?! Hold the presses!
And then there's this:
But even if the reformulated Four Loko isn't as potent as it once was, the study authors believe that its marketing has had a lasting effect. The drink helped popularize the idea of combining caffeine and alcohol, which has since taken off, especially among teenagers and college students
Hate to break it to you, science. But the "idea of combining caffeine and alcohol" was around long before Four Loko. Does Irish Coffee, vodka & Red Bull, or the original Four Loko, Sparks, come to mind?
Last but not least:
Cleary [a co-author on the study] and Levine say Four Loko's bright colors and design make it look a lot like non-alcoholic energy drinks and ice teas. "The person behind the register might not be familiar with the ingredients and think it's just an energy drink," says Levine.
Really? The bright-colors argument? And not just the usual "Bright colors attract children" argument, but a "Bright colors confuse store clerks" argument. That's a new one on us.
So basically the study is saying that if Four Loko hadn't been full of booze, full of caffeine, and brightly colored, young people wouldn't have bought it, gotten wasted on it, and ended up in the ER as often.
That's probably true.
But at that point there would have been no Four Loko. And those same kids getting shitfaced on the stuff would have likely gotten shitfaced on some other godawful concoction of booze and caffeine and/or drugs.
But by all means, keep uncovering the dark secrets of common sense.