01 February 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Heavy drinking is a major factor in morbidity and mortality worldwide. Little information is available on trends in Canada regarding alcohol abuse. We sought to estimate abstinence, binge drinking and alcohol intake exceeding low-risk drinking guidelines in the Canadian population from 1996 to 2013.

METHODS: The data sources for this analysis were a series of cross-sectional national health surveys of the Canadian population carried out by Statistics Canada between 1996 and 2013. These were cross-sectional files from the National Population Health Surveys of 1996 and 1998, plus the Canadian Community Health Surveys from 2000 to 2013. Respondents were aged 18 years and older.

RESULTS: The proportion of binge drinkers increased steadily from 13.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 13.2%-14.2%) in 1996 to 19.7% (95% CI 19.1%-20.3%) in 2013. The corresponding proportions for men were 20.8% (95% CI 19.9%-21.7%) in 1996, and 25.7% (95% CI 24.7%-26.6%) in 2013; for women, these proportions were 6.9% (95% CI 6.4%-7.5%) in 1996, and 13.8% (95% CI 13.1%-14.5%) in 2013. No significant increases were seen in the proportion of people who exceeded low-risk drinking guidelines or of abstainers during the same period.

INTERPRETATION: The rate of self-reported binge drinking in Canada has increased from 1996 to 2013, relatively more so among women than among men. No evidence of an increase in the proportion of people exceeding low-risk drinking guidelines or of abstainers was seen during the same period. These results suggest that binge drinking is of particular concern regarding intervention strategies aimed at improvement of public health.

25 October 2016 In General Health

Drinking within recommended limits is highly prevalent in much of the world, and strong epidemiological associations exist between moderate alcohol consumption and risk of several major chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer. In many cases, plausible biological mediators for these associations have been identified in randomized trials, but gold standard evidence that moderate drinking causes or prevents any chronic disease remains elusive and important concerns about available evidence have been raised. Although long-term randomized trials to test the observed associations have been termed impossible, clinical investigators have now successfully completed randomized trials of complex nutritional interventions in a variety of settings, along with trials of alcohol consumption itself of up to 2 years duration. The successful completion of these trials suggests that objections to the execution of a full-scale, long-term clinical trial of moderate drinking on chronic disease are increasingly untenable. We present potential lessons learned for such a trial and discuss key features to maximize its feasibility and value.

02 August 2016 In Social and Cultural Aspects

Adolescence is a time that can set the course of alcohol abuse later in life. Sensitivity to reward on multiple levels is a major factor in this development. We examined 736 adolescents from the IMAGEN longitudinal study for alcohol drinking during early (mean age=14.37) and again later (mean age=16.45) adolescence. Conducting structural equation modeling we evaluated the contribution of reward-related personality traits, behavior, brain responses and candidate genes. Personality seems to be most important in explaining alcohol drinking in early adolescence. However, genetic variations in ANKK1 (rs1800497) and HOMER1 (rs7713917) play an equal role in predicting alcohol drinking two years later and are most important in predicting the increase in alcohol consumption. We hypothesize that the initiation of alcohol use may be driven more strongly by personality while the transition to increased alcohol use is more genetically influenced.

21 April 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

To examine the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and adolescent alcoholic beverage preferences and the associated drinking patterns in China. The study used cross-sectional data collected from 136 junior or senior high schools, using a self-administered questionnaire. A total number of 7,075 subjects of drinking students were selected from three metropolises (Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou) via a two-stage stratified sampling method. Among the adolescent drinkers, 87.8% (95% CI: 86.5-89.0) reported that they drunk alcohol during the past years preceding the study, while 42.4% (95% CI: 40.4-44.4) of the subjects stated that they had drunk alcohol during the past 30 days. There were gradual increases in the usual quantity (>1 Standard Drink, SD) of alcoholic beverages with increasing SES, with highest rates reported by the high-level SES. Beer and grape wine were the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage, regardless of SES. Our findings suggest that high-level SES students have an increasing prevalence of drinking behaviour. Their confirmation by future studies which extend the sampling regions is required to further the prevention of adolescent alcohol abuse in China.

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