High-fructose corn syrup is the main ingredient in most wine coolers and this can promote harmful alcohol consumption, according to a University of Guelph study.
High-fructose corn syrup is approximately one-quarter of the volume of many sweetened alcoholic beverages.
Two psychology professors and a master’s degree student used rats to determine alcohol consumption. Rats won’t voluntarily drink alcohol, but when corn syrup was added, consumption and palatability increased.
When given beverages containing 10 percent alcohol and 25 percent corn syrup, some rats drank the equivalent of an adult human consuming 4.5 beers in 30 minutes. This amount is considered binge drinking.
“The more sweetened drinks that an adolescent drinks, the more likely they are to drink alcohol that is not sweetened,” Francesco Leri, one of the professors, said.
Drinking sweetened coolers can cause a person to grow accustomed to the taste of alcohol, Leri said, even if they dislike the taste of alcohol.
Beverage manufacturers should avoid marketing their products to younger consumers or should switch to natural sweeteners such as regular cane sugar, Leri said.
Sucrose and glucose also elicited increased alcohol consumption in rats, previous studies had found.
Noncaloric sweetener saccharin also prompted more alcohol consumption, but not as much as corn syrup.