BACKGROUND: Limited research is available on children's alcohol-related knowledge and alcohol-related norms, yet a better comprehension of these factors may be crucial in explaining alcohol use later in life. This study provides insights into alcohol-related knowledge and alcohol-related norms in four- to six-year-olds.

METHODS: Participating children (N=329; 48.9% boys) were shown, on a tablet, 18 drawings depicting 72 male and female adults and/or children in various situations and were asked to indicate what the depicted persons drank by touching one of 12 depicted beverages (four alcoholic; eight non-alcoholic). Subsequently, the children were asked to name the beverages and indicate whether they contained alcohol.

RESULTS: Children identified 30.7% of the alcoholic beverages (i.e., beer, champagne, red wine, and white wine) correctly by name and they identified 41.6% of the alcoholic beverages correctly as alcohol-containing. Children more often correctly identified the name and non-alcoholic content of non-alcoholic beverages compared to the name and alcoholic content of alcoholic beverages. No sex differences emerged in the correct identification of the name and the content of both alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages. However, alcohol-related knowledge was age-graded. Alcoholic beverages were more often assigned to male adults (39.2%) than to female adults (24.8%) or to children (13.2%). Additionally, alcoholic beverages were more often assigned to adults depicted in the presumably more appropriate situations (e.g., 'when having an indoor party': 37.0%) than to those depicted in the presumably more inappropriate situations (e.g., 'when driving a car': 28.6%).

CONCLUSIONS: Four- to six-year-olds already have knowledge about alcohol and its norms in adult culture. Insight into the development of children's alcohol-related knowledge and alcohol-related norms over time is required to investigate the transitions to alcohol expectancies, drinking motives, and alcohol initiation often occurring in adolescence. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

Published in General Health

INTRODUCTION: Youth obesity rates in Canada continue to rise. In this study, we produced conservative estimates of the potential excess calories from alcohol use across different alcohol consumption patterns common among Canadian youth to assess whether alcohol use should be considered in future obesity prevention strategies.

METHODS: Using data from 10 144 Grade 12 students participating in the COMPASS study (2013/14), we estimated the number of calories consumed per year from alcohol consumption. Our estimates were based on three different generic types of alcoholic beverages, which were grouped according to average calorie content (vodka coolers; beer [5%]; and beer [4%], wine and liquor) across different frequencies of alcohol use and binge drinking.

RESULTS: Results indicated high potential caloric intake for students who binge drank, as well as high variability in the estimates for calories consumed based on common consumption patterns for the different beverage types. For instance, 27.2% of students binge drank once per month, meaning they consumed between 6000 and 13 200 calories in one year (equivalent to 0.78 - 1.71 kg of fat). For the 4.9% of students who binge drank twice per week, the total calories in one year would range from 52 000 to 114 400 (equivalent to 6.74 - 14.83 kg of fat).

CONCLUSION: Current recommendations for preventing youth obesity do not generally include any consideration of alcohol use. The high prevalence of frequent alcohol consumption and binge drinking by youth in this study and the substantial number of calories contained in alcoholic beverages suggest alcohol use among youth may warrant consideration in relation to youth obesity prevention.

Published in General Health

Introduction: Adolescence and young adulthood are periods of continued biological and psychosocial maturation. Thus, there may be deleterious effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol on neural development and associated cognition during this time. The purpose of this mini review is to highlight neuroimaging research that has specifically examined the effects of binge and heavy drinking on adolescent and young adult brain structure and function.

Methods: We review cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of young binge and heavy drinkers that have examined brain structure (e.g., gray and white matter volume, cortical thickness, white matter microstructure) and investigated brain response using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Results: Binge and heavy-drinking adolescents and young adults have systematically thinner and lower volume in prefrontal cortex and cerebellar regions, and attenuated white matter development. They also show elevated brain activity in fronto-parietal regions during working memory, verbal learning, and inhibitory control tasks. In response to alcohol cues, relative to controls or light-drinking individuals, binge and heavy drinkers show increased neural response mainly in mesocorticolimbic regions, including the striatum, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), hippocampus, and amygdala. Mixed findings are present in risky decision-making tasks, which could be due to large variation in task design and analysis.

Conclusions: These findings suggest altered neural structure and activity in binge and heavy-drinking youth may be related to the neurotoxic effects of consuming alcohol in large quantities during a highly plastic neurodevelopmental period, which could result in neural reorganization, and increased risk for developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Published in Drinking Patterns

Falls are a major health problem in older adults, but their relationship with alcohol consumption in this population remains unclear. In a cohort with 2170 older adults followed up for 3.3 years, both moderate drinking and the Mediterranean drinking pattern were associated with a lower risk of falls and injurious falls.

INTRODUCTION: This study aims to examine the association between certain patterns of alcohol consumption, including the Mediterranean drinking pattern (MDP), and the risk of falls in older adults.

METHODS: A prospective cohort with 2170 community-dwelling individuals aged >/=60 years was recruited in Spain in 2008-2010 and followed up through 2012. At baseline, participants reported alcohol consumption and, at the end of follow-up, their falls during the previous year. The MDP was defined as moderate alcohol consumption (threshold between moderate and heavy intake was 40 g/day for men and 24 g/day for women) with preference for wine and drinking only with meals. Analyses were conducted with negative binomial or logistic regression, as appropriate, and adjusted for the main confounders.

RESULTS: Compared with never drinkers, the number of falls was lower in moderate drinkers (incidence rate ratio (95% confidence interval), 0.79 (0.63-0.99)) and drinkers with MDP (0.73 (0.56-0.96)). Also, moderate drinkers and those with MDP showed a lower risk of >/=2 falls (odds ratio (95% confidence interval), 0.58 (0.38-0.88) and 0.56 (0.34-0.93), respectively) and of falls requiring medical care (0.67 (0.46-0.96) and 0.61 (0.39-0.96), respectively).

CONCLUSION: Both moderate drinking and the MDP were associated with a lower risk of falls and injurious falls in older adults. However, sound advice on alcohol consumption should balance risks and benefits.

Published in Drinking Patterns

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