BACKGROUND: Alcohol-related mortality and morbidity are high in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations compared with individuals from advantaged areas. It is unclear if this increased harm reflects differences in alcohol consumption between these socioeconomic groups, reverse causation (ie, downward social selection for high-risk drinkers), or a greater risk of harm in individuals of low socioeconomic status compared with those of higher status after similar consumption. We aimed to investigate whether the harmful effects of alcohol differ by socioeconomic status, accounting for alcohol consumption and other health-related factors.

METHODS: The Scottish Health Surveys are record-linked cross-sectional surveys representative of the adult population of Scotland. We obtained baseline demographics and data for alcohol consumption (units per week and binge drinking) from Scottish Health Surveys done in 1995, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. We matched these data to records for deaths, admissions, and prescriptions. The primary outcome was alcohol-attributable admission or death. The relation between alcohol-attributable harm and socioeconomic status was investigated for four measures (education level, social class, household income, and area-based deprivation) using Cox proportional hazards models. The potential for alcohol consumption and other risk factors (including smoking and body-mass index [BMI]) mediating social patterning was explored in separate regression models. Reverse causation was tested by comparing change in area deprivation over time.

FINDINGS: 50 236 participants (21 777 men and 28 459 women) were included in the analytical sample, with 429 986 person-years of follow-up. Low socioeconomic status was associated consistently with strikingly raised alcohol-attributable harms, including after adjustment for weekly consumption, binge drinking, BMI, and smoking. Evidence was noted of effect modification; for example, relative to light drinkers living in advantaged areas, the risk of alcohol-attributable admission or death for excessive drinkers was increased (hazard ratio 6.12, 95% CI 4.45-8.41 in advantaged areas; and 10.22, 7.73-13.53 in deprived areas). We found little support for reverse causation.

INTERPRETATION: Disadvantaged social groups have greater alcohol-attributable harms compared with individuals from advantaged areas for given levels of alcohol consumption, even after accounting for different drinking patterns, obesity, and smoking status at the individual level.

FUNDING: Medical Research Council, NHS Research Scotland, Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office

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

BACKGROUND: This study examined changes during the past decade, from 2005 to 2015, in binge and high-intensity drinking in 7 separate age groups of U.S. 12th graders and young adults.

METHODS: National longitudinal data (N = 6,711) from Monitoring the Future were used to examine trends in consuming 5+, 10+, and 15+ drinks on the same occasion in the past 2 weeks from ages 18 to 29/30 overall and by gender. Results were compared with trends in past 12-month and 30-day alcohol use for the same age groups.

RESULTS: Between 2005 and 2015, binge (5+) and high-intensity drinking (10+, 15+) generally decreased for individuals in their early 20s, remained somewhat stable for individuals in their mid-20s, and increased for individuals at the end of young adulthood (age 29/30). The observed historical trends in binge and high-intensity drinking were similar to those for past 12-month and past 30-day alcohol use for those aged 18 to 20, but diverged for most other age groups in young adulthood. Trends were generally similar for men and women, except that the increase in prevalence began earlier in young adulthood for women than for men.

CONCLUSIONS: Binge and high-intensity drinking among U.S. 12th graders and young adults are dynamic phenomena. Prevention and intervention efforts aimed at reducing the harms resulting from 5+, 10+, and 15+ drinking should acknowledge and focus on differences in trends in these behaviors by age and gender.

Published in Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: We aimed to describe gender and region differences in the prevalence of binge drinking and in the association between binge drinking and well-being, among older adult Europeans. This is a cross-sectional study using the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) wave 4, conducted between 2011 and 2012, including 58 489 individuals aged 50 years or older. Sixteen European countries were grouped in four drinking culture regions: South, Central, North and East. We categorized drinking patterns as: never, former, no-binge and binge drinkers. We used the CASP-12 questionnaire to measure well-being. To assess the association between binge drinking and well-being, we fitted two-level mixed effects linear models. The highest percentage of binge drinkers was found in Central Europe (17.25% in men and 5.05% in women) and the lowest in Southern Europe (9.74% in men and 2.34% in women). Former, never and binge drinkers had a significant negative association with well-being as compared with no-binge drinkers. There was a significant interaction in this association by gender and region. Overall, associations were generally stronger in women and in Southern and Eastern Europe. The negative association of binge drinking with well-being was especially strong in Southern European women ( beta = -3.80, 95% CI: -5.16 to - 2.44, P value <0.001). In Southern and Eastern European countries the association between binge drinking and well-being is stronger, especially in women, compared with Northern and Central Europe. Cultural factors (such as tolerance to drunkenness) should be further explored.

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.