The Federal Trade Commission’s mandated Four Loko labeling fails to facilitate accurate estimation of alcohol content by college students
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BACKGROUND: Four Loko, the leading supersized alcopop brand, is a pre-mixed alcoholic beverage containing up to 5.5 standard alcoholic drinks in a can. In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mandated the addition to Four Loko cans of a label indicating its alcohol content in standard drinks, presented as "alcohol per serving" and "servings per container." OBJECTIVE: The current study investigated whether college students accurately estimate the alcohol content in cans of Four Loko bearing the FTC mandated labels. METHOD: Undergraduate student drinkers (n = 833; 51.6% women) in three states (Florida, Montana, and Virginia) were provided an empty Watermelon Four Loko can and asked to determine the number of standard drinks it contained, using 12-ounce regular beer (Budweiser) equivalents. In Florida and Virginia, Watermelon Four Loko contains 4.70 standard alcoholic drinks; in Montana, it contains 3.13. RESULTS: More than 60% of Florida students and more than 70% of Virginia students underestimated Four Loko's alcohol content by one or more standard drinks, compared to 45% of Montana students. Multivariable logistic regression analysis found the following variables were associated with greater odds of underestimating Four Loko's alcohol content by one or more standard alcoholic drinks: being female (AOR = 2.2), having never seen nor heard of Four Loko (AOR = 1.9), and residing in Florida (AOR = 1.7) or Virginia (AOR = 2.8) versus Montana. CONCLUSIONS: Students were far less likely to underestimate alcohol content for 8% alcohol-by-volume (abv) cans compared to those with higher alcohol concentrations. Thus, policies restricting supersized alcopops' abv may help consumers better estimate their alcohol content.
author list (cited authors)
Rossheim, M. E., Yurasek, A. M., Greene, K. M., Gonzalez-Pons, K. M., Barry, A. E., Thombs, D. L., ... Jernigan, D. H.