05 December 2018 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Alcohol intake is widely assumed to contribute to excess body fatness, especially among young men; however, the evidence is inconsistent. We have addressed this research question by investigating associations between reported alcohol consumption and body composition from large representative national surveys in a high alcohol-consuming country with a high obesity prevalence.

METHODS: The present study comprised a secondary analysis of combined cross-sectional nationally representative Scottish Health Surveys (1995-2010). Reported alcohol-drinking frequency was divided into five groups: from 'nonfrequent drinking' (reference) to daily/'almost every day' among 35 837 representative adults [mean (SD) age: 42.7 (12.7) years (range 18-64 years)]. Quantitative alcohol consumption was categorised into seven groups: from '1-7 to >/=50 10 g units per week'. Regression models against measured body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) were adjusted for age, physical activity, income, smoking, deprivation category and economic status.

RESULTS: Among alcohol-consuming men, heavier drinking (21-28 units per week) was associated with a higher BMI by +1.4 kg m(-2) [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.38-1.43] and higher WC by +3.4 cm (95% CI = 3.2-3.6) than drinking 1-7 units per week. However, those who reported daily drinking frequency were associated with a lower BMI by -2.45 kg m(-2) (95% CI = -2.4 to -2.5) and lower WC by -3.7 cm (95% CI = -3.3 to -4.0) than those who reported less-frequent drinking. Similar associations were found for women. Most of these associations were restricted to subjects aged >30 years. Unexplained variances in BMI and WC are large.

CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative alcohol consumption and frequency of consumption were positively and inversely associated, respectively, with both BMI and WC among alcohol-consuming adults. Surveys are needed that evaluate both the quantity and frequency of consumption. The lowest BMI and WC were associated with a 'Mediterranean' drinking style (i.e. relatively little, but more frequently).

03 May 2018 In Drinking Patterns
BACKGROUND: Several studies have investigated the predictors of alcohol consumption behavior among adolescents and young adults. However, the body of evidence about the relationship between in particular psychological factors and alcohol consumption among individuals in the second half of life is still limited. Hence, we aimed at identifying factors associated with alcohol consumption among individuals aged 40 and above, especially focusing on psychological correlates. METHODS: Data were derived from a population-based sample of community-dwelling individuals aged 40 to 95 years (n = 7820) in Germany. Alcohol consumption was rated as 'never' (never drinkers), 'rarer than once a month', 'one to three times a month', 'once a week', 'several times a week' (occasional drinkers), and 'daily' (daily drinkers). Socio-economic factors, the illness level and physical activity were considered as possible determinants of alcohol consumption. In addition, positive and negative affect, life satisfaction, optimism, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-regulation were included as psychological factors. Multinomial regressions were used to identify factors associated with drinking behavior. RESULTS: 12.0% of the individuals were daily drinkers, 76.5% were occasional drinkers, and 11.5% of the individuals never drank alcohol. After adjusting for various potential confounders, multinomial logistic regressions revealed that, compared with never drinking, occasional and daily drinking were positively associated with a decreased loneliness, a higher life satisfaction, a higher positive affect, a higher optimism, a higher self-efficacy (occasional drinkers), a higher self-esteem, and less perceived stress. In addition, occasional and daily drinking were positively associated with less physical illnesses, male gender, and income as compared with never drinking. CONCLUSIONS: The current study extends the existing literature on alcohol consumption behavior by new insights of correlates of drinking behavior among individuals in the second half of life. Since interventions are available to address this risk factor, this might help to identify individuals with increased alcohol consumption
22 June 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

BACKGROUND: Alcohol-related mortality and morbidity are high in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations compared with individuals from advantaged areas. It is unclear if this increased harm reflects differences in alcohol consumption between these socioeconomic groups, reverse causation (ie, downward social selection for high-risk drinkers), or a greater risk of harm in individuals of low socioeconomic status compared with those of higher status after similar consumption. We aimed to investigate whether the harmful effects of alcohol differ by socioeconomic status, accounting for alcohol consumption and other health-related factors.

METHODS: The Scottish Health Surveys are record-linked cross-sectional surveys representative of the adult population of Scotland. We obtained baseline demographics and data for alcohol consumption (units per week and binge drinking) from Scottish Health Surveys done in 1995, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. We matched these data to records for deaths, admissions, and prescriptions. The primary outcome was alcohol-attributable admission or death. The relation between alcohol-attributable harm and socioeconomic status was investigated for four measures (education level, social class, household income, and area-based deprivation) using Cox proportional hazards models. The potential for alcohol consumption and other risk factors (including smoking and body-mass index [BMI]) mediating social patterning was explored in separate regression models. Reverse causation was tested by comparing change in area deprivation over time.

FINDINGS: 50 236 participants (21 777 men and 28 459 women) were included in the analytical sample, with 429 986 person-years of follow-up. Low socioeconomic status was associated consistently with strikingly raised alcohol-attributable harms, including after adjustment for weekly consumption, binge drinking, BMI, and smoking. Evidence was noted of effect modification; for example, relative to light drinkers living in advantaged areas, the risk of alcohol-attributable admission or death for excessive drinkers was increased (hazard ratio 6.12, 95% CI 4.45-8.41 in advantaged areas; and 10.22, 7.73-13.53 in deprived areas). We found little support for reverse causation.

INTERPRETATION: Disadvantaged social groups have greater alcohol-attributable harms compared with individuals from advantaged areas for given levels of alcohol consumption, even after accounting for different drinking patterns, obesity, and smoking status at the individual level.

FUNDING: Medical Research Council, NHS Research Scotland, Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office

21 September 2016 In General Health

Although excessive alcohol use and alcohol misuse contribute to a broad range of health problems, recent research indicates that moderate alcohol consumption may in fact be beneficial. The present study builds on previous research to investigate the associations between alcohol use and self-rated health status among young adults. Using data collected in 2008 from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we use ordered probit models to determine whether the protective effects of moderate alcohol use are present after controlling for demographic, lifestyle, family background, and health-related characteristics. Our findings generally support earlier research with older samples, but some key gender differences are present. For women (n = 8275), moderate drinkers have better self-rated health status relative to former drinkers, infrequent drinkers, and light drinkers. Among men (n = 7207), the effects are mixed and less often significant. Differences in results between men and women point to the need for further gender-specific research and studies with other measures of health.

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