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Health officials warn about Four Loko

With the recent ubiquity of Four Loko cans across campus, including whispers of several Four Loko mixers and parties, Gannett Health Services is becoming increasingly concerned with student consumption of the alcoholic energy drink.

“Four Loko goes down pretty quickly because of the sweetness,” said Deborah K. Lewis, alcohol projects coordinator at Gannett. “Drinking a whole can is the equivalent of having almost 5 shots or 5 beers.”

Four Loko’s name is derived from its four main ingredients: caffeine, taurine, guarana and alcohol. Each 23.5 oz can is typically priced at around $2.50, and the brand’s nine flavors — ranging from Cranberry Lemonade to Watermelon — often contain more than 60 grams of sugar and around 660 calories.

“There are many more injuries reported with mixed drinks than with just alcohol alone because caffeine only adds to the illusion of invincibility that alcohol creates,” said Sharon Dittman, associate director of community relations at Gannett. “This is a drink that is marketing itself specifically to the younger demographic.”

Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, is a youthful company itself, founded by three Ohio State University graduates in 2005. The company has grown quickly, as has the popularity of their product line. According to The Wall Street Journal, in 2009, Four Loko ranked fourth in national sales growth at 7-Eleven convenience stores compared to other alcoholic energy drinks. Joose, manufactured by United Brands Co. Inc., ranked number one.

Read the full story at the Cornell Daily Sun.

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