28 September 2023 In Drinking Patterns

INTRODUCTION: Recent research found that drinking alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) could be riskier than drinking alcohol alone. Our aim was to compare rates of risk behaviors in consumers of AmED versus exclusive alcohol drinkers, matching them based on their drinking frequency.

METHODS: Data about 16-year-old students who reported the number of occasions on which they had drunk AmED or alcohol only in the preceding 12 months (n = 32,848) were drawn from the 2019 ESPAD study. After matching for consumption frequency, the sample consisted of 22,370 students (11,185 AmED consumers and 11,185 exclusive alcohol drinkers). Key predictors comprised substance use, other individual risk behaviors, and family characteristics (parental regulation, monitoring, and caring).

RESULTS: The multivariate analysis showed significantly higher odds of being AmED consumers compared to being exclusive alcohol drinkers in the majority of the investigated risk behaviors, including: daily tobacco smoking, illicit drug use, heavy episodic drinking, truancy at school, engaging in physical fights and serious arguments, having troubles with the police, and having unprotected sexual intercourse. Instead, lower odds were found for reporting high parents' educational level, medium and low family economic status, perceived possibility to freely talk about problems to family members, spending free time reading books or other hobbies.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that, given the same consumption frequency in the past year, AmED consumers typically reported higher associations with risk-taking behaviors compared to exclusive alcohol drinkers. These findings advance past research that failed to control for the frequency of AmED use versus exclusive alcohol consumption.

23 November 2022 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Alcohol is a discretionary, energy dense, dietary component. Compared to non-drinkers, people who consume alcohol report higher total energy intake and may be at increased risk of weight gain, overweight, and obesity, which are key preventable risk factors for illness. However, accurate consumer knowledge of the energy content in alcohol is low. To inform future behaviour change interventions among drinkers, this study investigated individual characteristics associated with changing alcohol consumption due to energy-related concerns.

METHODS: An online survey was undertaken with 801 Australian adult drinkers (18-59 years, 50.2% female), i.e. who consumed alcohol at least monthly. In addition to demographic and health-related characteristics, participants reported past-year alcohol consumption, past-year reductions in alcohol consumption, frequency of harm minimisation strategy use (when consuming alcohol), and frequency of changing alcohol consumption behaviours because of energy-related concerns.

RESULTS: When prompted, 62.5% of participants reported changing alcohol consumption for energy-related reasons at least 'sometimes'. Women, those aged 30-44 years, metropolitan residents, those with household income $80,001-120,000, and risky/more frequent drinkers had increased odds of changing consumption because of energy-related concerns, and unemployed respondents had reduced odds.

CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that some sociodemographic groups are changing alcohol consumption for energy-related reasons, but others are not, representing an underutilised opportunity for health promotion communication. Further research should investigate whether messaging to increase awareness of alcohol energy content, including through systems-based policy actions such as nutritional/energy product labelling, would motivate reduced consumption across a broader range of drinkers.

27 October 2022 In Drinking Patterns
Preventing or delaying the onset of alcohol use among children and youth is an important public health goal. One possible factor in alcohol use onset among early adolescents is caffeine. The aim of this study was to assess the possible contribution of caffeine to the onset of alcohol use during early adolescence. We used data from the Young Mountaineer Health Study Cohort. Survey data were collected from 1349 (response rate: 80.7%) 6th grade students (mean age at baseline 11.5 years) in 20 middle schools in West Virginia during the fall of 2020, and again approximately 6 months later in spring of 2021. We limited our analyses to students reporting never having used any form of alcohol at baseline. Logistic regression was employed in multivariable analyses and both Odds Ratios and Relative Risks reported. At follow-up, almost 14% of participants reported having consumed alcohol at least once and 57% used caffeine of 100 mg + daily. In multivariable analyses we controlled for social and behavioral variables known to impact tobacco use. Caffeine use was operationalized as a three-level factor: no use, <100 mg per day, and 100 + mg per day, with the latter being the approximate equivalent of the minimum of a typical cup of coffee or can of energy drink. Caffeine use of 100 mg + per day was significantly related to alcohol use at 6-months follow-up (OR: 1.79, RR: 1.56, p = .037). We conclude that caffeine consumption among 11-12-year-old adolescents may be a factor in early onset of alcohol use.
26 January 2022 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Both alcohol use and weight status have been linked to increased mortality risk, but evidence of their joint effect is limited. The goal of this study was to examine the combined effects of alcohol and weight status (BMI classes: underweight, normal, overweight, obesity) on mortality using nationally representative data.

METHODS: Using data from public-use National Health Interview Survey-Linked Mortality Files (NHIS-LMF), 2001-2011, linked to prospective mortality follow-up through December 2015, we used age-period-cohort Cox proportional hazards models to examine all-cause and cause-specific mortality associated with the joint effects of alcohol use and BMI on 209,317 individuals aged 35-85.

RESULTS: Individuals with an underweight BMI status had higher all-cause and cause-specific mortality risks than those with a normal BMI status and light/moderate alcohol intake. All-cause mortality risks were 148% (hazard ratio [HR] 2.48, 95% CI 1.60-3.83) higher in underweight heavy drinkers than light/moderate drinkers with normal BMI status. Obese heavy drinkers had a 16% higher chance of dying from all-cause mortality (HR 1.16, 95% CI 1.00-1.35). Individuals in the unknown alcohol and BMI category have a higher chance of death from all-cause (HR 1.35, 95% CI 1.14-1.59) or cause-specific (CVD HR 1.75, 95% CI 1.14-2.69 and Cancer HR 1.33, 95% CI 1.01-1.76).

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol drinking levels result in heightened all-cause and cause-specific mortality risks; the risks are compounded among underweight, obese, and unknown BMI individuals across all or cause-specific mortality.

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