14 November 2012 In Drinking & Driving

AIMS: To give an overview of the volume of alcohol consumption, beverage preference, and patterns of drinking among adults (people 15 years and older) in central and eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) and to compare it to southern and western Europe, Russia and Ukraine.

METHODS: Secondary data analysis. Consumption and preferred beverage type data for the year 2002 were taken from the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and the WHO Global Alcohol Database.

RESULTS: Average consumption in central and eastern Europe is high with a relatively large proportion of unrecorded consumption ranging from one litre in Czech Republic and Estonia to 10.5 l in Ukraine. The proportion of heavy alcohol consumption (more than 40 g of pure alcohol per day) among men was the lowest in Bulgaria (25.8%) and the highest in Czech Republic (59.4%). Among women, the lowest proportion of heavy alcohol consumption was registered in Estonia (4.0%) and the highest in Hungary (16.0%). Patterns of drinking are detrimental with a high proportion of binge drinking, especially in the group of countries traditionally drinking vodka. In most countries, beer is now the most prevalent alcoholic beverage.

CONCLUSIONS: Other studies suggest that the population drinking levels found in central and eastern Europe are linked with higher levels of detrimental health outcomes. Known effective and cost-effective programs to reduce levels of risky drinking should, therefore, be implemented, which may, in turn, lead to a reduction of alcohol-attributable burden of disease.

14 November 2012 In Drinking & Driving

AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate the utility of a short, practical pouring exercise as a means of illustrating the details of the UK 'Sensible Drinking' guidelines.

METHODS: Participants (N = 297, 53% male) recruited at four Edinburgh employment sites, each completed a short non-standardized questionnaire and poured their 'usual measure of wine or spirit' into a glass (purchased from four 'high street' outlets). The actual and estimated unit content of their poured drinks and reactions to feedback were noted. Participants were informed of their daily limit of consumption in terms of this drink.

RESULTS: On average, drinks contained 2.05 UK units. Only 27% (N = 79) of respondents estimated the unit content of their drink within 10% of the true value. Of drinkers, 20.5% (N = 61) indicated that the results of the pouring test would influence their future pouring (70% of these were women). When informed of daily limits of consumption in terms of personal drink measure, 46% (N = 132) of drinkers indicated they would usually exceed this.

CONCLUSION: A practical demonstration of health guidelines presented in terms of personal drinking habits may contribute to dissemination of responsible drinking messages. Preliminary evidence suggests women may be particularly open to this approach. The utility of this intervention is underscored by recent figures highlighting the increasing preference for home drinking.

14 November 2012 In Drinking & Driving

AIMS: It is generally accepted, but not yet documented that the risk of future alcoholism increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. The objective of this study was to investigate this association using the Copenhagen City Heart Study.

METHODS: Quantity and frequency of alcohol intake was measured in 19 698 men and women randomly drawn from the Copenhagen Population Register in 1976-78. The study population was linked to three different registers in order to detect alcoholism, and average follow-up time was 25 years.

RESULTS: After adjustment for all putative confounders, the risk of alcoholism for women increased significantly at 1-7 drinks per week with a hazard ratio (HR) of 2.02 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.16, 3.53) compared to never/almost never drinking; the HR for drinking monthly was 1.75 (95% CI: 1.08, 2.85). The risk for men did not increase significantly before 22-41 drinks per week (HR = 3.81, 95 % CI: 2.18, 6.68) or if they had a daily alcohol intake (HR = 3.55, 95 % CI: 2.11, 5.99). Smoking was independently associated with the risk of alcoholism for both men and women.

CONCLUSION: The risk of developing alcoholism increased significantly by very low intakes of alcohol in women, while the risk is only increased significantly in men consuming more than 21 drinks per week.

14 November 2012 In Drinking & Driving

Dietary ethanol (alcohol) is the most widely consumed drug worldwide. High levels of mortality, morbidity, and social malaise are associated with abuse of alcohol, and increasing numbers of women and youth are abusing alcohol. However, strong epidemiological data demonstrate a U- or J-shaped relationship between volume of alcohol consumed and all-cause mortality or disease burden. Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality and disease burden than are abstinence and immoderate drinking. A brief review of the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of ethanol is provided with a discussion of the impact of gender differences. Potential mechanisms by which ethanol, ethanol metabolites, and (or) phytochemicals, as associated with different types of ethanol-containing beverages, are discussed in regards to the beneficial and detrimental impacts they may have on physiological system functioning and mortality or disease burden. Per capita consumption of ethanol-containing beverages varies across geo-political regions worldwide. A more recent research focus is the impact of consumption patterns on consumption volumes as they relate to disease and mortality. Certain drinking patterns moderate overall volume of ethanol consumption. Thus, an emerging approach to the study of alcohol consumption in populations is to consider both the volume and pattern of consumption as they relate to mortality and disease burden. Alcohol consumption patterns among athletes are discussed; physiological implications of alcohol abuse in this population are outlined. Current guidelines for the consumption of alcohol are reviewed. Alcohol consumption guidelines reflect the current scientific understanding of both the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption and the detriments of immoderate alcohol consumption.


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