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

The introduction of health warnings on labels to correct externalities associated with alcohol consumption is heavily debated and has been explored from different perspectives. The current paper aims to analyse the interest and attitudes of Italian university students regarding health warnings on alcoholic beverages and to verify the existence of segments that differ in terms of attitudes towards such warnings. Our results show that young consumers consider health warnings quite important, although the degree of perceived utility differs in relation to the type of warning. Cluster analysis shows the existence of three groups of young consumers with different degrees of attention and perceived utility of warnings on alcoholic beverages, but also in relation to drinking behaviour and awareness of social and health risks related to alcohol consumption. In brief, Italian young adults with moderate consumption behaviour view label warnings positively, while this attitude is weaker among younger adults and those with riskier consumption behaviours. Our findings, albeit limited and based on stated and not revealed data, support the need for appropriate tools to improve the availability of information among young adults on the risks of excessive alcohol consumption and increased awareness of the importance of moderate drinking.

Published in Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: Studies have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower incidence of diabetes in women. However, not only the amount but also the drinking pattern could be of importance when assessing the longitudinal relation between alcohol and glucose. Also, there is a lack of studies on alcohol use beginning in adolescence on adult glucose levels. The aim was to examine the association between total alcohol consumption and binge drinking between ages 16 and 43 and fasting plasma glucose at age 43.

METHODS: Data were retrieved from a 27-year prospective cohort study, the Northern Swedish Cohort. In 1981, all 9th grade students (n = 1083) within a municipality in Sweden were invited to participate. There were re-assessments at ages 18, 21, 30 and 43. This particular study sample consisted of 897 participants (82.8%). Fasting plasma glucose (mmol/L) was measured at a health examination at age 43. Total alcohol consumption (in grams) and binge drinking were calculated from alcohol consumption data obtained from questionnaires.

RESULTS: Descriptive analyses showed that men had higher levels of fasting plasma glucose as compared to women. Men also reported higher levels of alcohol consumption and binge drinking behavior. Linear regressions showed that total alcohol consumption in combination with binge drinking between ages 16 and 43 was associated with elevated fasting plasma glucose at age 43 in women (beta = 0.14, p = 0.003) but not in men after adjustment for BMI, hypertension and smoking at age 43.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that reducing binge drinking and alcohol consumption among young and middle-aged women with the highest consumption might be metabolically favorable for their future glucose metabolism.

Published in General Health

OBJECTIVE: Using a national sample of young adults, this study identified latent classes of alcohol use including high-intensity drinking (10+ drinks) from ages 18 to 25/26, and explored associations between time-invariant covariates measured at age 18 and class membership.

METHOD: Longitudinal data from the national Monitoring the Future study were available for 1078 individuals (51% female) first surveyed as 12th grade students in 2005-2008, and followed through modal age 25/26. Repeated measures latent class analysis was used to identify latent classes based on self-reported alcohol use: no past 30-day drinking, 1-9 drinks per occasion in the past 2weeks, and 10+ drinks per occasion.

RESULTS: Four latent classes of alcohol use from ages 18 to 25/26 were identified: (1) Non-Drinkers (21%); (2) Legal Non-High-Intensity Drinkers (23%); (3) Persistent Non-High-Intensity Drinkers (40%); and (4) High-Intensity Drinkers (16%). Membership in the High-Intensity Drinkers class was characterized by higher than average probabilities of high-intensity drinking at all ages, with the probability of high-intensity drinking increasing between ages 18 and 21/22. Both gender and race/ethnicity significantly differentiated class membership, whereas neither parental education (a proxy for socioeconomic status) nor college plans at 12th grade showed significant associations.

CONCLUSIONS: More than one in seven individuals who were seniors in high school experienced a long-term pattern of high-intensity drinking lasting into middle young adulthood. Young adult high-intensity drinking is often preceded by high-intensity drinking in high school, suggesting the importance of screening and prevention for high-intensity drinking during adolescence.

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.