26 January 2022 In Drinking Patterns
Youth drinking has declined in many high-income countries for two decades. This development is still largely unexplained. Developing evidence and extending our understanding as to the mechanisms behind these changes is imperative for advising governments and policy makers on how to support and maintain the trends. Given the international scope of the trends, comparative studies have been suggested for improving our understanding of the development. In this commentary, we explore the patterns observed across several waves of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs between 1999 and 2019, and how these match-up with the World Values Survey. We found that the declines in youth drinking are limited to a smaller number of countries and that in Europe these are all found in two groups from the World Values Survey, protestant Europe and English-speaking countries. If the declines in youth drinking are systematic and limited to a smaller number of countries, this challenges some of the hypothesised drivers of this development, but can also help guide future research.
05 December 2018 In General Health

Evidence on the relationship between alcohol consumption and body mass index (BMI) is mixed, particularly for young adults. This study explored the relationship between energy obtained from alcoholic beverages and BMI using data for 18(-)25 year-olds (n = 7691) from pooled cross-sections of the 2008(-)2014 Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey. Energy obtained from alcoholic beverages (excluding mixers) on the heaviest drinking day in the past week was expressed as percentage of total recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of energy (% RDA Energy). Linear regressions were estimated of BMI on alcohol intake categories controlling for intake frequency, physical activity, longstanding illness and other covariates, with separate analyses for men and women, and by beverage type. Significant associations with BMI were observed with the 'Very High' category of alcohol intake (>75% RDA Energy) for men (p < 0.001, 1.74, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98, 2.49) and with the "High" (>50% to 75% RDA Energy) (p < 0.001, 1.67, 95% CI 0.26, 2.58) and above category for women, when compared with the Low (>0(-)25% RDA Energy) category. Young adults drinking the highest levels of alcohol on a single occasion were more likely to be obese than those with the lowest intake. Interventions to address internationally rising youth obesity rates should also consider reducing alcohol consumption by increasing alcohol prices, and reducing availability and marketing exposure.

04 August 2017 In General Health

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.

04 August 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Introduction: Adolescence and young adulthood are periods of continued biological and psychosocial maturation. Thus, there may be deleterious effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol on neural development and associated cognition during this time. The purpose of this mini review is to highlight neuroimaging research that has specifically examined the effects of binge and heavy drinking on adolescent and young adult brain structure and function.

Methods: We review cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of young binge and heavy drinkers that have examined brain structure (e.g., gray and white matter volume, cortical thickness, white matter microstructure) and investigated brain response using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Results: Binge and heavy-drinking adolescents and young adults have systematically thinner and lower volume in prefrontal cortex and cerebellar regions, and attenuated white matter development. They also show elevated brain activity in fronto-parietal regions during working memory, verbal learning, and inhibitory control tasks. In response to alcohol cues, relative to controls or light-drinking individuals, binge and heavy drinkers show increased neural response mainly in mesocorticolimbic regions, including the striatum, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), hippocampus, and amygdala. Mixed findings are present in risky decision-making tasks, which could be due to large variation in task design and analysis.

Conclusions: These findings suggest altered neural structure and activity in binge and heavy-drinking youth may be related to the neurotoxic effects of consuming alcohol in large quantities during a highly plastic neurodevelopmental period, which could result in neural reorganization, and increased risk for developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

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