03 June 2019 In General Health

BACKGROUND: While alcohol use is linked with a wide variety of health problems, the question of whether differences in drinking patterns could yield different outcomes has remained unclear.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We measured liver enzymes (ALT, GGT) from alcohol consumers with or without binge drinking from a population-based sample in Finland, where binge-type drinking is common. Data on alcohol use, diet, body weight, lifestyle (smoking, coffee consumption, physical activity), and health status were collected from 19225 subjects (9492 men, 9733 women), aged 25-74 years. The participants were subsequently classified to subgroups, both according to the frequencies of binge drinking and the amounts of regular alcohol intake (low-, medium-, and high-risk drinking).

RESULTS: The quantity of regular alcohol use was roughly linearly related with GGT and ALT activities. ANOVA analyses of the trends according to the frequency of binge drinking showed a significant GGT increase in both men (p < 0.0005) and women (p < 0.0005), and a significant increase of ALT in men (p < 0.0005). In those with low-risk overall consumption, markedly higher GGT (p < 0.0005) and ALT (p < 0.0005) occurred in those with binge drinking more than once a month, compared with those with no such occasions. Binge drinking occurring </=1/month also resulted in higher GGT (p < 0.0005) and ALT (p < 0.05) activities.

CONCLUSIONS: These results emphasize possible adverse consequences of binge drinking on hepatic function even in those with low-risk overall consumption. The pattern of drinking should be more systematically implicated in clinical recommendations for drinking reduction.

'Responsible drinking' campaigns emerged in the early 1970s as a means of addressing hazardous drinking and its related consequences. While these were initially the product of public health agencies and health-related NGOs, they are increasingly being developed and disseminated by the alcohol industry. There is considerable debate as to whether industry-generated campaigns are designed to reduce hazardous drinking and related problems (as argued by their developers) or are designed to avoid government regulation or even to increase sales. The aim of the present study was to explore the way that recent industry-developed responsible drinking campaigns are perceived and interpreted by the general public. That is, do they promote low-risk drinking, promote risky drinking, or just muddy the waters. Two sub-studies were conducted. The first, a mall intercept study with 180 adults in two Australian shopping districts, explored participants' understanding of slogans/taglines. The second, an online survey with 480 Australian adults, explored understandings and interpretations of television/online commercials. The results of the two studies revealed diversity in participants' interpretation of the 'responsible drinking' advertisements. Terminology utilised in industry-developed advertisements was found to be ambiguous; for example, what age group was being referred to in the tagline 'Kids and alcohol don't mix', and whether 'Drink Properly' meant not drinking to excess or drinking in a way that made you look more sophisticated. In Study Two, the government-developed campaign ('Know when to say when') was clearly interpreted as warning against risky consumption of alcohol; whereas the industry-developed campaigns ('How to drink properly', 'Kids absorb your drinking', 'Friends are waiting') were interpreted to have a range of different meanings, including some seemingly unrelated to alcohol. These findings are consistent with the literature evaluating anti-smoking campaigns developed by the tobacco industry, and previous research showing that industry communications serve to soften public opinion and create the impression of a 'socially responsible' industry but are likely to be less effective than initiatives focused on the availability and promotion of alcohol
27 February 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

PURPOSE: The purpose of the present study is to describe the portrayal of alcohol content in popular YouTube music videos.

METHOD: We used inductive thematic analysis to explore the lyrics and visual imagery in 49 UK Top 40 songs and music videos previously found to contain alcohol content and watched by many British adolescents aged between 11 and 18 years and to examine if branded content contravened alcohol industry advertising codes of practice.

RESULTS: The analysis generated three themes. First, alcohol content was associated with sexualised imagery or lyrics and the objectification of women. Second, alcohol was associated with image, lifestyle and sociability. Finally, some videos showed alcohol overtly encouraging excessive drinking and drunkenness, including those containing branding, with no negative consequences to the drinker.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that YouTube music videos promote positive associations with alcohol use. Further, several alcohol companies adopt marketing strategies in the video medium that are entirely inconsistent with their own or others agreed advertising codes of practice. We conclude that, as a harm reduction measure, policies should change to prevent adolescent exposure to the positive promotion of alcohol and alcohol branding in music videos.

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
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