01 February 2017 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Explicit labelling of lower strength alcohol products could reduce alcohol consumption by attracting more people to buy and drink such products instead of higher strength ones. Alternatively, it may lead to more consumption due to a 'self-licensing' mechanism. Equivalent labelling of food or tobacco (for example "Low fat" or "Low tar") could influence consumption of those products by similar mechanisms. This systematic review examined the effects of 'Low alcohol' and equivalent labelling of alcohol, food and tobacco products on selection, consumption, and perceptions of products among adults.

METHODS: A systematic review was conducted based on Cochrane methods. Electronic and snowball searches identified 26 eligible studies. Evidence from 12 randomised controlled trials (all on food) was assessed for risk of bias, synthesised using random effects meta-analysis, and interpreted in conjunction with evidence from 14 non-randomised studies (one on alcohol, seven on food and six on tobacco). Outcomes assessed were: quantities of the product (i) selected or (ii) consumed (primary outcomes - behaviours), (iii) intentions to select or consume the product, (iv) beliefs associated with it consumption, (v) product appeal, and (vi) understanding of the label (secondary outcomes - cognitions).

RESULTS: Evidence for impacts on the primary outcomes (i.e. amounts selected or consumed) was overall of very low quality, showing mixed effects, likely to vary by specific label descriptors, products and population characteristics. Overall very low quality evidence suggested that exposure to 'Low alcohol' and equivalent labelling on alcohol, food and tobacco products can shift consumer perceptions of products, with the potential to 'self-licence' excess consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: Considerable uncertainty remains about the effects of labels denoting low alcohol, and equivalent labels, on alcohol, food and tobacco selection and consumption. Independent, high-quality studies are urgently needed to inform policies on labelling regulations.

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.

27 October 2016 In Diabetes

The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome is rising worldwide. Its association with alcohol intake, a major lifestyle factor, is unclear, particularly with respect to the influence of drinking with as opposed to outside of meals. We investigated the associations of different aspects of alcohol consumption with the metabolic syndrome and its components. In cross-sectional analyses of 14,375 active or retired civil servants (aged 35-74 years) participating in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil), we fitted logistic regression models to investigate interactions between the quantity of alcohol, the timing of its consumption with respect to meals, and the predominant beverage type in the association of alcohol consumption with the metabolic syndrome. In analyses adjusted for age, sex, educational level, income, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, smoking, body mass index, and physical activity, light consumption of alcoholic beverages with meals was inversely associated with the metabolic syndrome (/=14 drinks/week: OR = 1.60, 95%CI 1.29-1.98). Drinking predominantly wine, which occurred mostly with meals, was significantly related to a lower syndrome prevalence; drinking predominantly beer, most notably when outside of meals and in larger quantity, was frequently associated with a greater prevalence. In conclusion, the alcohol-metabolic syndrome association differs markedly depending on the relationship of intake to meals. Beverage preference-wine or beer-appears to underlie at least part of this difference. Notably, most alcohol was consumed in metabolically unfavorable type and timing. If further investigations extend these findings to clinically relevant endpoints, public policies should recommend that alcohol, when taken, should be preferably consumed with meals.

21 September 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

INTRODUCTION: The differential associations of beer, wine, and spirit consumption on cardiovascular risk found in observational studies may be confounded by diet. We described and compared dietary intake and diet quality according to alcoholic beverage preference in European elderly.

METHODS: From the Consortium on Health and Ageing: Network of Cohorts in Europe and the United States (CHANCES), seven European cohorts were included, i.e. four sub-cohorts from EPIC-Elderly, the SENECA Study, the Zutphen Elderly Study, and the Rotterdam Study. Harmonized data of 29,423 elderly participants from 14 European countries were analyzed. Baseline data on consumption of beer, wine, and spirits, and dietary intake were collected with questionnaires. Diet quality was assessed using the Healthy Diet Indicator (HDI). Intakes and scores across categories of alcoholic beverage preference (beer, wine, spirit, no preference, non-consumers) were adjusted for age, sex, socio-economic status, self-reported prevalent diseases, and lifestyle factors. Cohort-specific mean intakes and scores were calculated as well as weighted means combining all cohorts.

RESULTS: In 5 of 7 cohorts, persons with a wine preference formed the largest group. After multivariate adjustment, persons with a wine preference tended to have a higher HDI score and intake of healthy foods in most cohorts, but differences were small. The weighted estimates of all cohorts combined revealed that non-consumers had the highest fruit and vegetable intake, followed by wine consumers. Non-consumers and persons with no specific preference had a higher HDI score, spirit consumers the lowest. However, overall diet quality as measured by HDI did not differ greatly across alcoholic beverage preference categories.

DISCUSSION: This study using harmonized data from ~30,000 elderly from 14 European countries showed that, after multivariate adjustment, dietary habits and diet quality did not differ greatly according to alcoholic beverage preference.

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