INTRODUCTION: Understanding the concept of a standard drink (SD) is foundational knowledge to many public health policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related harms. These policies include adhering to low-risk drinking guidelines, screening brief intervention and referral activities, and counter alcohol-impaired driving initiatives. A lack of awareness of SDs might preclude the effectiveness of these interventions. A systematic review was conducted to review the evidence about how effective alcohol labels are in communicating SD information to the consumer.

METHODS: A systematic review was conducted to identify peer-reviewed articles and grey literature from relevant indexes from January 1990 to January 2016. Additionally, policy makers and researchers in countries where standard drink labels (SDLs) have been implemented were consulted to help identify relevant literature. The search strategy was focused on the impact of SDLs relative to a range of outcomes, including awareness of SDs, pouring behaviors, and consumption patterns.

RESULTS: Eleven records were eligible for inclusion. The evidence suggests that knowledge of the definition of an SD is low. However, SDLs can help individuals more accurately identify and pour an SD. SDLs need to be supported by educational initiatives to help the consumer understand the SD information provided on the beverage container. To date, there has been no comprehensive evaluation of the impact of SDLs.

CONCLUSIONS: SDLs have the potential to increase awareness of SDs and facilitate the monitoring of personal alcohol consumption in the context of a comprehensive alcohol strategy. However, their impact on drinking behaviors requires further exploration, especially among high-risk populations.

Published in General Health

Alcoholic beverages have been consumed for thousands of years, attracting great human interest for social, personal, and religious occasions. In addition, they have long been debated to confer cardioprotective benefits. The French Paradox is an observation of a low prevalence of ischemic heart disease, with high intakes of saturated fat, a phenomenon accredited to the consumption of red wine. Although many epidemiological investigations have supported this view, others have attributed it to beer or spirits, with many suggesting that the drink type is not important. Although excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages is commonly regarded to be detrimental to cardiovascular health, there is a debate as to whether light-to-moderate intake is cardioprotective. Although there is extensive epidemiological support for this drinking pattern, a consensus has not been reached. On the basis of published work, we describe the composition of wine and the effects of constituent polyphenols on chronic cardiovascular diseases.

Published in General Health

Objective: To estimate the prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy among the general population of Latin America and the Caribbean, by country, in 2012.

Methods: Three steps were taken: a comprehensive, systematic literature search; meta-analyses, assuming a random-effects model for countries with published studies; and regression modelling (data prediction) for countries with either no published studies or too few to obtain an estimate.

Results: Based on 24 existing studies, the pooled prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy among the general population was estimated for Brazil (15.2%; 95% confidence interval [95%CI]: 10.4%-20.8%) and Mexico (1.2%; 95%CI: 0.0%-2.7%). The prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy among the general population was predicted for 31 countries and ranged from 4.8% (95%CI: 4.2%-5.4%) in Cuba to 23.3% (95%CI: 20.1%-26.5%) in Grenada.

Conclusions: Greater prevention efforts and measures are needed in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to prevent pregnant women from consuming alcohol during pregnancy and decrease the rates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Additional high quality studies on the prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean are also needed.

Published in Pregnant Women

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
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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.