BACKGROUND: A strict high legal age limit for alcohol purchases decreases adolescents' access to alcohol, but little is known about long-term health effects. The aim was to estimate the effect of increased alcohol availability during adolescence on alcohol-related morbidity and mortality.

METHODS: A nationwide register-based study using data from a natural experiment setting. In two regions of Sweden, strong beer (4.5%-5.6% alcohol by volume) became temporarily available for purchase in grocery stores for individuals 16 years or older (instead of 21) in 1967/1968. The intervention group was defined as all individuals living in the intervention area when they were 14-20 years old (n=72 110). The remaining Swedish counties excluding bordering counties, without the policy change, were used as the control group (n=456 224). The outcomes of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality were collected from the Hospital Discharge Register and Cause of Death Register, in which average follow-up times were 38 years and 41 years, respectively. HRs with 95% CIs were obtained by Cox regression analysis.

RESULTS: In the fully adjusted model, no clear evidence of an association between increased alcohol availability during adolescence and alcohol-related morbidity (HR: 0.99, 95% CI 0.96 to 1.02) or mortality (HR: 1.02, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.10) was found.

CONCLUSION: The initial elevated risk of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality later in life among adolescents exposed to increased access to strong beer in Sweden vanished when a regional measure population density of locality was included in the model, which is important to consider in future research.

Published in General Health

BACKGROUND: Hazardous and harmful alcohol use and high blood pressure are central risk factors related to premature non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality worldwide. A reduction in the prevalence of both risk factors has been suggested as a route to reach the global NCD targets. This study aims to highlight that screening and interventions for hypertension and hazardous and harmful alcohol use in primary healthcare can contribute substantially to achieving the NCD targets.

METHODS: A consensus conference based on systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical guidelines, experimental studies, and statistical modelling which had been presented and discussed in five preparatory meetings, was undertaken. Specifically, we modelled changes in blood pressure distributions and potential lives saved for the five largest European countries if screening and appropriate intervention rates in primary healthcare settings were increased. Recommendations to handle alcohol-induced hypertension in primary healthcare settings were derived at the conference, and their degree of evidence was graded.

RESULTS: Screening and appropriate interventions for hazardous alcohol use and use disorders could lower blood pressure levels, but there is a lack in implementing these measures in European primary healthcare. Recommendations included (1) an increase in screening for hypertension (evidence grade: high), (2) an increase in screening and brief advice on hazardous and harmful drinking for people with newly detected hypertension by physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals (evidence grade: high), (3) the conduct of clinical management of less severe alcohol use disorders for incident people with hypertension in primary healthcare (evidence grade: moderate), and (4) screening for alcohol use in hypertension that is not well controlled (evidence grade: moderate). The first three measures were estimated to result in a decreased hypertension prevalence and hundreds of saved lives annually in the examined countries.

CONCLUSIONS: The implementation of the outlined recommendations could contribute to reducing the burden associated with hypertension and hazardous and harmful alcohol use and thus to achievement of the NCD targets. Implementation should be conducted in controlled settings with evaluation, including, but not limited to, economic evaluation.

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

PURPOSE: The aims of the study were to: a) examine the prevalence of energy drink (ED) and alcohol mixed with energy drink (AmED) consumption; b) investigate the relationships between ED and AmED with alcohol, binge drinking and drugs accounting for at risk behaviors among a representative sample of Italian adolescents.

METHODS: A representative sample of 30,588 Italian high school students, aged 15-19years, was studied. Binary and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the independent association of the potential predictors' characteristics with the ED and AmED drinking during the last year.

RESULTS: Respectively 41.4% and 23.2% of respondents reported drinking EDs and AmEDs in the last year. Multivariate analysis revealed that consumption of EDs and AmEDs during the last year were significantly associated with daily smoking, binge drinking, use of cannabis and other psychotropic drugs. Among life habits and risky behaviors the following were positively associated: going out with friends for fun, participating in sports, experiencing physical fights/accidents or injury, engaging in sexual intercourse without protection and being involved in accidents while driving.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the popularity of ED and AmED consumption among the Italian school population aged 15-19 years old: 4 out of 10 students consumed EDs in the last year and 2 out of 10 AmED. Multivariate analysis highlighted the association with illicit drug consumption and harming behaviors, confirming that consumption of EDs and AmEDs is a compelling issue especially during adolescence, as it can effect health as well as risk taking behaviors.

Published in Drinking Patterns
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The authors have taken reasonable care in ensuring the accuracy of the information herein at the time of publication and are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Read more on our disclaimer.