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

Aims: Epidemiological evidence indicates a protective effect of light to moderate alcohol consumption compared to non-drinking and heavy drinking. Although several mechanisms have been suggested, the effect of alcohol on atherosclerotic changes in vessel walls is unclear. Therefore, we explored the relationship between alcohol consumption and common carotid intima media thickness, a marker of early atherosclerosis in the general population.

Methods: Individual participant data from eight cohorts, involving 37,494 individuals from the USE-IMT collaboration were used. Multilevel age and sex adjusted linear regression models were applied to estimate mean differences in common carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) with alcohol consumption.

Results: The mean age was 57.9 years (SD 8.6) and the mean CIMT was 0.75 mm (SD 0.177). About, 40.5% reported no alcohol consumed, and among those who drank, mean consumption was 13.3 g per day (SD 16.4). Those consuming no alcohol or a very small amount (10 g per day, after adjusting for a range of confounding factors. Conclusion: In this large CIMT consortium, we did not find evidence to support a protective effect of alcohol on CIMT.

Published in Cardiovascular System

The relation of alcohol consumption with disease burden remains debated partly due to opposite associations with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. The relation of alcohol consumption with disease burden expressed in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) summarizes opposing associations of alcohol consumption on chronic diseases. This study aimed to investigate the association of alcohol consumption with chronic disease burden expressed in DALYs based on individual-participant data. The study was a prospective study among 33,066 men and women from the EPIC-NL cohort. At baseline, alcohol consumption was assessed with a validated food-frequency questionnaire. Participants were followed for occurrence of and mortality from chronic diseases and DALYs were calculated. After 12.4 years follow-up, 6647 disease incidences and 1482 deaths were documented, resulting in 68,225 healthy years of life lost (6225 DALYs). Moderate drinkers (women 5-14.9 g/day, men 5-29.9 g/day) had a lower chronic disease burden (mean DALYs -0.27; 95% CI -0.43; -0.11) than light drinkers (0-4.9 g/day), driven by a lower disease burden due to CVD (-0.18: -0.29; -0.06) but not cancer (-0.05: -0.16; 0.06). The associations were most pronounced among older participants (>/=50 years; -0.32; -0.53; -0.10) and not observed among younger women (-0.08; -0.43; 0.35), albeit non-significant (pinteraction > 0.14). Substantial drinking (women 15-29.9 g/day, men 30-59.9 g/day) compared to light drinking was not associated with chronic disease burden. Our results show that moderate compared to light alcohol consumption was associated with living approximately 3 months longer in good health. These results were mainly observed among older participants and not seen among younger women.

Published in General Health

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: The practice and adverse consequences of pre-drinking have been documented within a dozen countries, but little remains known about the differences between countries or the country-specific determinants of pre-drinking. This study aims to estimate the percentage of pre-drinkers in different countries and the impact of country-level indicators such as the price of alcohol and the prevalence of drinkers and of heavy drinkers.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Using data from the Global Drug Survey, the percentage of pre-drinkers was estimated for 25 countries from 65 126 respondents. Bivariate and multivariate multilevel models were used to model the impact of the on-premise/off-premise drinks price ratio, the prevalence of current drinkers and of heavy drinkers on the percentage of pre-drinkers.

RESULTS: The estimated percentage of pre-drinkers per country ranged from 17.7% (Greece) to 85.4% (Ireland). Across all countries, the higher the prevalence of current drinkers, the higher the percentage of pre-drinkers. In addition, an interaction between the prevalence of heavy drinkers and the price ratio was found. In countries with a low price ratio, the higher the prevalence of heavy drinkers, the higher the percentage of pre-drinkers. The opposite effect was observed in countries with high price ratios.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Pre-drinking appears to be a worldwide phenomenon. The significant effects of all three indicators demonstrate the role of country-level determinants underpinning the prevalence of pre-drinking across countries. Policy makers could use the reported findings for initiating campaigns to reduce pre-drinking behaviour.

[Labhart F, Ferris J, Winstock A, Kuntsche E. The country-level effects of drinking, heavy drinking and drink prices on pre-drinking: An international comparison of 25 countries. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;00:000-000]

Published in Pregnant Women
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