OBJECTIVES: Alcohol is a significant source of dietary calories and is a contributor to obesity. Industry pledges to provide calorie information to consumers have been cited as reasons for not introducing mandatory ingredient labelling. As part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal (RD) in England, alcohol retailers and producers committed to providing consumers with information on the calorie content of alcoholic drinks. This study examines what was achieved following this commitment and considers the implications for current industry commitments to provide information on alcohol calories.

STUDY DESIGN: Analysis of RD pledge delivery plans and progress reports. Assessment of calorie information in supermarkets and in online stores.

METHODS: (i) Analysis of the content of pledge delivery plans and annual progress reports of RD signatories to determine what action they had committed to, and had taken, to provide calorie information. (ii) Analysis of the availability of calorie information on product labels; in UK supermarkets; and on online shopping sites and websites.

RESULTS: No information was provided in any of 55 stores chosen to represent all the main UK supermarkets. Calorie information was not routinely provided on supermarkets' websites, or on product labels.

CONCLUSIONS: One of the stated purposes of the RD was to provide consumers with the information to make informed health-related choices, including providing information on the calorie content of alcoholic drinks. This study indicates that this did not take place to any significant extent. The voluntary implementation of alcohol calorie labelling by industry needs to continue to be carefully monitored to determine whether and how it is done.

Published in General Health

OBJECTIVE: Moderate alcohol use has been broadly associated with health benefits among older adults, including improved mood. Aims of this study were to evaluate the relationship of moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology over a period of eight years, and to examine inflammation, indicated by C-reactive protein (CRP), as one mechanism by which this relationship functions.

METHODS: The study included 3177 community-dwelling participants over the age of 65 in 2008 drawn from the Health and Retirement Study. Data from the 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2014 waves were used. Alcohol use was measured via self-report and was dichotomized as abstinent (0 drinks per week) and moderate (1-14 drinks per week). Inflammation was measured using CRP, which was collected using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and provided in units of mug/mL. Control variables included gender, age, body mass index (BMI), and medical burden.

RESULTS: A latent growth curve model with full information maximum likelihood was used, with results revealing that moderate drinkers endorsed fewer depressive symptoms at baseline and a steeper rate of change over time. Abstinent respondents' depressive symptomatology was characterized by a more linear change rate. Further, moderate drinkers had lower CRP levels suggesting that inflammation partially mediates the relationship between moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology.

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate alcohol use predicts fewer depressive symptoms among older adults. This relationship is partially moderated by CRP and is eroded by the passage of time. Future research should identify additional mechanisms relating alcohol to positive health outcomes and less depressive symptomatology. Copyright (c) 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Published in General Health

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: This study aims to estimate the prevalence of long-term risky drinking within the Australian population and the proportion of standard drinks that is consumed outside of the long-term risk (LTR) guidelines of two Australian standard drinks (ASD) per day.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Recruited by phone, 2020 Australian adults with an oversampling of risky drinkers were asked detailed questions about how much alcohol they consumed at a range of locations in 2013. Descriptive statistical analyses of data weighted to be representative of the Australian adult population were undertaken, with a focus on the ASD consumed above the LTR guidelines.

RESULTS: Although 28% of respondents drink at levels above the LTR drinking guidelines, 56% of all ASD consumed are above the two per day recommended to reduce LTR. Three-quarters of cask wine and liqueurs were consumed outside of the LTR guidelines, as were 58% of all ASD consumed in the home, similar to the proportion of ASD consumed above the guidelines in pubs (55%).

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: While the minority of Australians drink to LTR levels, the majority of alcohol is consumed by long-term risky drinkers. More research and policy focus on the patterns of alcohol consumption that lead to long-term risk, particularly outside of licensed premises, is required.

[Callinan S, Livingston M, Room R, Dietze PM. How much alcohol is consumed outside of the lifetime risk guidelines in Australia?. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;00:000-000]

Published in Drinking Patterns
Thursday, 22 June 2017 13:32

Preventing Binge Drinking in Adolescents

BACKGROUND: In a survey taken in Germany in 2015, 14.1% of the 12- to 17-year-olds surveyed had practiced binge drinking at least once in the preceding 30 days. The school program "Klar bleiben" ("Keep a Clear Head") was designed for and implemented among 10th graders. The participants committed themselves to abstain from binge drinking for 9 weeks. We studied whether this intervention influenced the frequency and intensity of binge drinking.

METHODS: This cluster-randomized controlled trial was carried out in 196 classes of 61 schools, with a total of 4163 participants with a mean age of 15.6 years (standard deviation 0.73 years). Data were collected by questionnaire in late 2015, before the intervention and again six months later. The primary endpoints were the frequency of consumption of at least 4 or 5 alcoholic drinks (for girls and boys, respectively) and the typical quantity consumed. This trial was registered in the German Clinical Trials Registry (Deutsches Register Klinischer Studien, DRKS) with the DRKS ID number DRKS00009424.

RESULTS: At the beginning of the trial, there was no difference between the intervention group and the control group with respect to the primary endpoints. After the intervention, differences were found among participants who had consumed alcohol before the trial (73.2% of the overall sample): binge drinking at least once in the preceding month was reported by 49.4% of the control group and by 44.2% in the intervention group (p = 0.028). The mean number of alcoholic drinks consumed in each drinking episode was 5.20 in the control group and 5.01 in the intervention group (p = 0.047).

CONCLUSION: The intervention was effective only in the large subgroup of adolescents who had previously consumed alcohol: they drank alcohol less often and in smaller amounts than their counterparts in the control group.

Published in Drinking Patterns

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