Drinking & Eating Patterns

Regular moderate wine consumption has been associated with several health benefits in adult individuals. However, the risk increases drastically with each drink above moderation! Drinking more than what is recommended in the guidelines will not provide more benefits, only more harm. This widely accepted association is represented in the J-curve.


However, not only the amount but also drinking pattern is believed to be relevant when considering the health aspects of alcoholic beverages. It is better to drink moderately and regularly with the meals than to drink the same amount at a single occasion.

For example,
the data of those who drank alcoholic beverages regularly in Ireland and in France were analysed. In Ireland, beer and spirits are the preferred drinks and most alcohol tends to be consumed on the weekends whereas in France, most of the consumed alcohol comes from wine and it is drunk every day. Comparing these two different drinking cultures, only wine drinking was associated with a lower risk of heart attack and/or stroke after adjusting for confounding factors. No significant risk reduction was found for beer or other alcoholic beverages. The researchers concluded that regular moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), whereas episodic or binge drinking increases the risk.

 Drinking Pattern N.IrelandvsFrance

Furthermore, they suggest that wine associated drinking behaviour is at least as significant as wine consumption as such.


Moderate daily consumption of alcoholic beverages, mainly in the form of wine and usually with meals, is considered part of a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. Growing evidence indicates that the Mediterranean diet (MD) is beneficial to human health. A MD is characterised by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, minimally processed cereals, moderately high intake of fish, high intake of olive oil, low-to-moderate intake of dairy products, low intake of meats and a regular but moderate consumption of wine.


Many epidemiological and research studies have reported that this diet pattern is able to limit the development and progression of coronary heart disease, the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in both developed and developing countries worldwide. There is now a large consensus about recommending a Mediterranean diet to reduce atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease and to limit the risk of fatal complications such as sudden cardiac death and heart failure.


Evidence is also accumulating that wine helps to prevent the development of certain cancers (see cancer). Other studies suggest that elderly people who adhere to a Mediterranean-type diet, including moderate intake of wine and other alcoholic beverages, may be at lower risk for cognitive decline in old age. The researchers explained the effects by the wine's potential role in protecting from brain damage. Traditional Mediterranean foods may also reduce oxidative stress and inflammation which is thought to be involved in Alzheimer's disease.


Conformity to the traditional Mediterranean diet may also be associated with lower breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women and could explain, in part, the lower incidence of this disease in Mediterranean countries.



Moderate drinking guidelines are set by governments, so that any potential harm to the human body is minimized and any potential benefit is maximised. Exceptions are young people, combining alcoholic drinks with certain medications, during pregnancy and with a history of addiction. Some guidelines include recommendations to drink with food, to alternate alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks and ‘to pace’ drinking.

Based on available scientific evidence and different references provided by various public health authorities, it is accepted that low-risk moderate consumption ranges between the amounts set out in the guidelines below:


Guidelines for low risk moderate consumption:

·         Up to 2 drink units a day for women

·         Up to 3 drink units a day for men

·         No more than 4 drink units on any one occasion.


The above summaries provide an overview of the topic, for more details and specific questions, please refer to the articles in the database.





BACKGROUND: Many studies have reported that the earlier the age at first drink (AFDrink) the higher the later drinking levels and related problems. However, unless adolescents proceed into drunkenness, it is unclear why consuming small quantities at early age should lead to later problems. This study investigates the link between AFDrink and problem behaviors (smoking, cannabis use, injuries, fights, and low academic performance) among 15-year-olds who did and did not proceed into drunkenness. Among those with drunkenness experience, we tested whether AFDrink predicted problem behaviors over and above the age at first drunkenness (AFDrunk). METHODS: Multilevel structural equation models were estimated based on a sample of 44,801 alcohol-experienced 15-year-olds from 38 North American and European countries and regions who participated…
Background: Previous research has suggested a positive risk-relationship between volume of consumption and adverse behavioral and social consequences of drinking. However, because the risk-relationship may be modified by factors such as pattern of drinking, attributes of social drinking contexts, and drunken comportment, the shape of the risk-function appear to be contingent upon the larger cultural context of drinking. Methods: In this article, I use graphical risk-curve analyses and model estimations to assess how the risk of experiencing alcohol-related problems is associated with self-reported volume of alcohol consumption in the 3 Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) as well as Sweden and Italy. The analysis utilized data from 2 general population surveys (including Sweden plus Italy and the Baltic countries, respectively)…
Aims: This study examined relations between cultural norms and drinking practices in Italian young people using qualitative interviewing techniques. We collected self-report drinking history information from young people including whether or not they were allowed alcohol with meals in a family setting when growing up. Methods: We conducted ethnographic interviews of 80 adolescent (ages 16-18) and 80 young adult (ages 25-30) regular and heavy drinkers in two regions (Abruzzo and Umbria). All 20 Italian regions produce wine. Abruzzo has a high ratio of heavy drinkers while Umbria has a high ratio of regular drinkers. We used the AUDIT to determine eligibility. We queried age at first drink, first 5+, first drunk, context of drinking, drinking with family during meals, availability…
OBJECTIVE: To examine whether consistent low-risk drinking is associated with lower risk of developing functional limitations among older adults. METHOD: Data were obtained from five waves of the Health and Retirement Study. Function was assessed by questions measuring four physical abilities and five instrumental activities of daily living. Five different drinking patterns were determined using data over two consecutive survey periods. RESULTS: Over the follow-up periods, 38.6% of older adults developed functional limitations. Consistent low-risk drinkers had lower odds of developing functional limitations compared with consistent abstainers, and the effect of consistent low-risk drinking was greater among those aged 50 to 64 years compared with those aged >/=65 years. Other drinking patterns were not associated with lower odds of incident…
BACKGROUND: Studies of episodic drinking typically use a measure based on the frequency of drinking five or more standard drinks (a definition which itself varies based on the standard units being used). While this threshold clearly defines drinking behaviour with a range of risks and negative consequences, there has been limited research outside of US college-based studies to determine the appropriateness of this definition. This study examines fifteen different risky-drinking thresholds to assess which definitions of risky drinking best predict negative outcomes. METHODS: This paper presents an analysis of a national survey sample of 19,757 drinkers. The appropriateness of each threshold is assessed using basic risk-curves, specificity and sensitivity analyses and the performance of each threshold definition in multivariate logistic…
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