22 June 2017 In General Health

INTRODUCTION: Energy drinks are popular beverages that are supposed to counteract sleepiness, increase energy, maintain alertness and reduce symptoms of hangover. Cognitive enhancing seems to be related to many compounds such as caffeine, taurine and vitamins. Currently, users mostly combine psychostimulant effects of energy drinks to counteract sedative effects of alcohol. However, recent literature suggests that this combination conducts to feel less intoxicated but still impaired. The goal of the present article is to review cognitive impact and subjective awareness in case of caffeinated alcoholic beverage (CAB) intoxication.

METHOD: PubMed (January 1960 to March 2016) database was searched using the following terms: cognitive impairments, alcohol, energy drinks; cognition, alcohol, caffeine.

RESULTS: 99 papers were found but only 12 randomized controlled studies which explored cognitive disorders and subjective awareness associated with acute CAB or AED (alcohol associated with energy drinks) intoxication were included.

DISCUSSION: The present literature review confirmed that energy drinks might counteract some cognitive deficits and adverse effects of alcohol i.e. dry mouth, fatigue, headache, weakness, and perception of intoxication due to alcohol alone. This effect depends on alcohol limb but disappears when the complexity of the task increases, when driving for example. Moreover, studies clearly showed that CAB/AEDs increase impulsivity which conducts to an overconsumption of alcohol and enhanced motivation to drink compared to alcohol alone, potentiating the risk of developing addictive behaviors. This is a huge problem in adolescents with high impulsivity and immature decision making processes.

CONCLUSION: Although energy drinks counteract some cognitive deficits due to alcohol alone, their association promotes the risk of developing alcohol addiction. As a consequence, it is necessary to better understand the neurobiological mechanisms underlying these interactions in order to better prevent the development of alcohol dependence.

27 February 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

BACKGROUND: Alcohol warning labels have a limited effect on drinking behavior, potentially because people devote minimal attention to them. We report findings from two studies in which we measured the extent to which alcohol consumers attend to warning labels on alcohol packaging, and aimed to identify if increased attention to warning labels is associated with motivation to change drinking behavior.

METHODS: Study 1 (N = 60) was an exploratory cross-sectional study in which we used eye-tracking to measure visual attention to brand and health information on alcohol and soda containers. In study 2 (N = 120) we manipulated motivation to reduce drinking using an alcohol brief intervention (vs control intervention) and measured heavy drinkers' attention to branding and warning labels with the same eye-tracking paradigm as in study 1. Then, in a separate task we experimentally manipulated attention by drawing a brightly colored border around health (or brand) information before measuring participants' self-reported drinking intentions for the subsequent week.

RESULTS: Study 1 showed that participants paid minimal attention to warning labels (7% of viewing time). Participants who were motivated to reduce drinking paid less attention to alcohol branding and alcohol warning labels. Results from study 2 showed that the alcohol brief intervention decreased attention to branding compared to the control condition, but it did not affect attention to warning labels. Furthermore, the experimental manipulation of attention to health or brand information did not influence drinking intentions for the subsequent week.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol consumers allocate minimal attention to warning labels on alcohol packaging and even if their attention is directed to these warning labels, this has no impact on their drinking intentions. The lack of attention to warning labels, even among people who actively want to cut down, suggests that there is room for improvement in the content of health warnings on alcohol packaging.

02 August 2016 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: To examine if and how older adults modify their drinking after health deterioration, and the factors that motivate changing or maintaining stable drinking behaviour.

STUDY DESIGN: Explanatory follow-up mixed-methods research.

METHODS: The association between health deterioration and changes in alcohol consumption was examined using secondary data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a biennial prospective cohort study of a random sample of adults aged 50 years and older living in England. Data were collected through a personal interview and self-completion questionnaire across three waves between 2004 and 2009. The sample size (response rate) across the three waves was 8781 (49.9%), 7168 (40.3%) and 6623 (37.3%). The Chi-squared test was used to examine associations between diagnosis with a long-term condition or a worsening of self-rated health (e.g. from good to fair or fair to poor) and changes in drinking frequency (e.g. everyday, 5-6 days per week, etc.) and volume (ethanol consumed on a drinking day) between successive waves. In-depth interviews with 19 older adults recently diagnosed with a long-term condition were used to explore the factors that influenced change or maintenance in alcohol consumption over time. A purposive sampling strategy was used to recruit a diverse sample of current and former drinkers from voluntary and community organizations in the north of England. An inductive approach was used to analyze the data, facilitating the development of an a posteriori framework for understanding drinking change.

RESULTS: There was no significant relationship between health deterioration and changes in drinking volume over time. There was however a significant association between health deterioration and changes in drinking frequency between successive waves (chi2 = 15.24, P < 0.001 and chi2 = 17.28, P < 0.001). For example, of participants reporting health deterioration between the first two waves, 47.6% had stable drinking frequency, 23.4% increased their drinking frequency and 29% reported decreased drinking frequency. In comparison, of participants reporting no health deterioration, 52.7% reported stable frequency, 20.8% increased frequency and 26.4% decreased frequency. In qualitative interviews, older adults described a wide range of factors that influence changes in drinking behaviour: knowledge gained from talking to healthcare professionals, online and in the media; tangible negative experiences that were attributed to drinking; mood and emotions (e.g. joy); the cost of alcohol; pub closures; and changes in social roles and activities. Health was just one part of a complex mix of factors that influenced drinking among older adults.

CONCLUSION: Patterns of drinking change after health deterioration in older adults are diverse, including stable, increasing and decreasing alcohol consumption over time. Although health motivations to change drinking influence behaviour in some older adults, social and financial motivations to drink are also important in later life and thus a holistic approach is required to influence behaviour.

02 August 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Pre-drinking has been linked to subsequent heavy drinking and the engagement in multiple risky behaviors.

OBJECTIVES: The present study examined a group of adolescents who recently had a "big night out" to determine whether there were differences in their pre-drinking behavior based on age, gender, geographic location, and social setting.

METHODS: Participants (n = 351, aged 16-19) representing the heaviest 20-25% of drinkers in their age group were recruited using nonrandom sampling from metropolitan (Melbourne, Sydney, Perth) or regional (Bunbury) locations across Australia and administered a survey by a trained interviewer.

RESULTS: Almost half the sample pre-drank (n = 149), most commonly at a friend's house. Those aged 18-19 were more likely to pre-drink, and did so at higher quantities compared to their younger counterparts. Males and females reported similar pre-drinking duration, quantity and amount spent on alcohol. Compared to those in cities, regional participants consumed greater quantities over longer periods of time. Two-thirds of participants consumed alcohol in excess of national guidelines during their pre-drinking session. These participants were more likely to nominate price as a motivation to pre-drink and were less likely to report that someone else provided them alcohol.

CONCLUSIONS: This study sheds light on the pre-drinking habits of a population of young risky drinkers, and highlights the need for policy makers to address this form of drinking to reduce alcohol-related harm among young people.

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