New research suggests that the alcohol present in malt liquor is processed by the body in different ways than that in other alcoholic beverages, although this may not explain the beverage's popularity, Reuters reported Sept. 23.
Researchers led by Robert Taylor of Howard University asked 31 African-American men and women to drink either malt liquor or a mix of diet soda and alcohol, each containing 6 percent alcohol by volume. Results showed that the alcohol in the diet soda mixture was absorbed more quickly than that in the malt liquor, but while the malt-liquor drinkers had greater total exposure to alcohol, participants in the two groups reported no significant differences in their sense of intoxication.
The authors set out to investigate the effects of malt liquor due to its popularity with young people, and minority youth in particular. However, Taylor and colleagues said the findings are “insufficient to explain the popularity of these commercially available malt-liquor beverages,” adding that other contributory factors, like “marketing and the targeting of promotional materials to specific segments of the population,” may influence drinking behavior.
The exact influence the difference in absorption of alcohol has on intoxication levels is still unclear, as well, and very little research exists on how different kinds of alcohol affect drinking behavior.
The research appeared in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.