01 February 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns
OBJECTIVE: Despite declines in Australian alcohol consumption, youth alcohol related harms remain prevalent. These alcohol-related consequences appear to be driven by a subset of risky drinkers who engage in 'high intensity' drinking episodes and are underrepresented in national health surveys. This project aims to investigate high risk drinking practices and alcohol-related harms amongst young people not otherwise recorded in existing data. METHODS: A community sample of the heaviest drinking 20-25% 16-19 year olds were surveyed across three Australian states (n=958; 80% metropolitan). We examined the context of their last risky drinking session through online and face-to-face surveys. RESULTS: Males consumed a mean of 17 and females 14 standard drinks, and 86% experienced at least one alcohol-related consequence during this session. More than a quarter of the face-to-face sample had Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores indicative of alcohol dependence. Indications of dependence were 2.3 times more likely among those who felt uncomfortable about seeking alcohol treatment, and less likely if harm reduction strategies were frequently used while drinking. CONCLUSIONS: It is clear this underrepresented population experiences substantial acute and potentially chronic consequences. IMPLICATIONS: Within the context of increasing alcohol-related harms among young Australians, the understanding of this group's drinking habits should be prioritised
01 February 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Alcohol contributes to approximately 30% of all serious crashes. While the majority of drivers acknowledge the risks associated with drink-driving, a significant proportion of the population continue to engage in this behaviour. Attitudes towards drink-driving as well as personal alcohol consumption patterns are likely to underpin a driver's decision to drink-drive. These associations were explored in the current study.

METHODS: A large (N=2994) cross-sectional online survey of a representative sample of drivers in Australia was conducted. Participants provided information about their own alcohol consumption patterns, drink-driving behaviour as well as attitudes towards drink-driving (own and others) and enforcement strategies.

RESULTS: Alcohol consumption patterns differed according to age, gender and work status. Drivers who reported drink-driving behaviour and had high risk alcohol consumption patterns were less likely to agree that drink-driving leads to increased crash risk and more likely to agree they drink and drive when they believed they could get away with it. In contrast, drivers who did not report drink-driving and had low risk consumption patterns were more likely to report that the enforcement strategies are too lenient. Binary logistic regression showed that high risk alcohol consumption patterns and agreement from drivers that they drink and drive when they believe they can get away with it had the strongest associations with drink-driving. These findings highlight the relationships between one's drinking patterns, drink-drive behaviour and attitudes towards drink-driving and drink-driving enforcement.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The patterns of associations that emerged suggest that drink-driving is the expression of a broader health issue for the most "at-risk" cohort of drinkers. The decision to drink and drive may result from a need borne from an alcohol dependent lifestyle exacerbated by a social acceptability of the behaviour and positive attitudes towards one's ability to drink-drive with few adverse consequences. Therefore, the broader alcohol consumption patterns of drink-drivers needs to be considered when targeting drink-drive reductions.

01 February 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Mixing alcohol with diet beverages, as compared to mixing the same amount of alcohol with a regular beverage, is associated with greater intoxication. This may occur because diet mixers increase alcohol absorption rates. Thus, it is plausible that the use of diet mixers may increase the risk of alcohol-related harms. The current study sought to (1) determine the rate/frequency of use in among college students, (2) examine the relationship between mixing alcohol with diet beverages and alcohol-related problems, above typical alcohol use and sensation seeking, and (3) explore key traits (gender, restricting food while drinking, and body mass index [BMI]) that may characterize users. Participants were 686 (73% female) undergraduate students who completed self-reports of alcohol use (including diet mixer use), alcohol-related problems, eating behaviors while drinking, sensation seeking, and demographic information. Results revealed that about 36% of the sample reported consuming alcohol with diet mixers, and users typically consumed this beverage at least once a month. Students who reported mixing alcohol with diet beverages experienced more alcohol-related problems. And, the more frequently one consumed this beverage, the more problems were reported. These associations were found after controlling for typical level of alcohol use and sensation seeking. No differences were observed between user-status on gender, eating behaviors while drinking, and BMI. Our findings suggest that mixing alcohol with diet beverages could be a risk factor for experiencing more alcohol-related harms. Further research is needed to understand this relationship, as it may help guide intervening efforts aimed to reduce alcohol-related risks.

01 February 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Worldwide, binge drinking is a major public health problem. The popularized health risks associated with binge drinking include physical injury and motor vehicle crashes; less attention has been given to the negative effects on the cardiovascular (CV) system. The primary aims of this review were to provide a summary of the adverse effects of binge drinking on the risk and development of CV disease and to review potential pathophysiologic mechanisms. Using specific inclusion criteria, an integrative review was conducted that included data from human experimental, prospective cross-sectional, and cohort epidemiological studies that examined the association between binge drinking and CV conditions such as hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, and arrhythmias. Studies were identified that examined the relationship between binge drinking and CV outcomes. Collectively, findings support that binge drinking is associated with a higher risk of pre-hypertension, hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke in middle-aged and older adults. Binge drinking may also have adverse CV effects in young adults (aged 18-30). Mechanisms remain incompletely understood; however, available evidence suggests that binge drinking may induce oxidative stress and vascular injury and be pro-atherogenic. Public health messages regarding binge drinking need to include the effects of binge drinking on the cardiovascular system. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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