22 February 2019 In Drinking & Driving

BACKGROUND: Drink driving is an important risk factor for road traffic accidents (RTAs), which cause high levels of morbidity and mortality globally. Lowering the permitted blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers is a common public health intervention that is enacted in countries and jurisdictions across the world. In Scotland, on Dec 5, 2014, the BAC limit for drivers was reduced from 0.08 g/dL to 0.05 g/dL. We therefore aimed to evaluate the effects of this change on RTAs and alcohol consumption.

METHODS: In this natural experiment, we used an observational, comparative interrupted time-series design by use of data on RTAs and alcohol consumption in Scotland (the interventional group) and England and Wales (the control group). We obtained weekly counts of RTAs from police accident records and we estimated weekly off-trade (eg, in supermarkets and convenience stores) and 4-weekly on-trade (eg, in bars and restaurants) alcohol consumption from market research data. We also used data from automated traffic counters as denominators to calculate RTA rates. We estimated the effect of the intervention on RTAs by use of negative binomial panel regression and on alcohol consumption outcomes by use of seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average models. Our primary outcome was weekly rates of RTAs in Scotland, England, and Wales. This study is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN38602189.

FINDINGS: We assessed the weekly rate of RTAs and alcohol consumption between Jan 1, 2013, and Dec 31, 2016, before and after the BAC limit came into effect on Dec 5, 2014. After the reduction in BAC limits for drivers in Scotland, we found no significant change in weekly RTA rates after adjustment for seasonality and underlying temporal trend (rate ratio 1.01, 95% CI 0.94-1.08; p=0.77) or after adjustment for seasonality, the underlying temporal trend, and the driver characteristics of age, sex, and socioeconomic deprivation (1.00, 0.96-1.06; p=0.73). Relative to RTAs in England and Wales, where the reduction in BAC limit for drivers did not occur, we found a 7% increase in weekly RTA rates in Scotland after this reduction in BAC limit for drivers (1.07, 1.02-1.13; p=0.007 in the fully-adjusted model). Similar findings were observed for serious or fatal RTAs and single-vehicle night-time RTAs. The change in legislation in Scotland was associated with no change in alcohol consumption, measured by per-capita off-trade sales (-0.3%, -1.7 to 1.1; p=0.71), but a 0.7% decrease in alcohol consumption measured by per-capita on-trade sales (-0.7%, -0.8 to -0.5; p<0.0001).

INTERPRETATION: Lowering the driving BAC limit to 0.05 g/dL from 0.08 g/dL in Scotland was not associated with a reduction in RTAs, but this change was associated with a small reduction in per-capita alcohol consumption from on-trade alcohol sales. One plausible explanation is that the legislative change was not suitably enforced-for example with random breath testing measures. Our findings suggest that changing the legal BAC limit for drivers in isolation does not improve RTA outcomes. These findings have significant policy implications internationally as several countries and jurisdictions consider a similar reduction in the BAC limit for drivers.

FUNDING: National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme.

27 September 2018 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Recent trends in alcoholic liver disease, alcohol-related emergency room admissions, and alcohol use disorder prevalence as measured by general-population surveys have raised concerns about rising alcohol-related morbidity and mortality in the United States. In contrast, upward trends in per capita alcohol consumption have been comparatively modest.

METHODS: To resolve these discordant observations, we sought to examine trends in the prevalence of alcohol use and binge drinking from 6 regularly or periodically administered national surveys using a meta-analytic approach. Annual or periodic prevalence estimates for past-12-month or past-30-day alcohol use and binge drinking were estimated for available time points between the years 2000 and 2016. Estimates were combined in a random-effects regression model in which prevalence was modeled as a log-linear function of time to obtain meta-analytic trend estimates for the full population and by sex, race, age, and educational attainment.

RESULTS: Meta-analysis-derived estimates of average annual percentage increase in the prevalence of alcohol use and binge drinking were 0.30% per year (95% CI: 0.22%, 0.38%) and 0.72% per year (95% CI: 0.46%, 0.98%), respectively. There was substantial between-survey heterogeneity among trend estimates, although there was notable consistency in the degree to which trends have impacted various demographic groups. For example, most surveys found that the changes in prevalence for alcohol use and binge drinking were large and positive for ages 50 to 64 and 65 and up, and smaller, negative, or nonsignificant for ages 18 to 29.

CONCLUSIONS: Significant increases in the prevalence of alcohol use and of binge drinking over the past 10 to 15 years were observed, but not for all demographic groups. However, the increase in binge drinking among middle-aged and older adults is substantial and may be driving increasing rates of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality.

28 June 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: National estimates on per capita alcohol consumption are provided regularly by various sources and may have validity problems, so corrections are needed for monitoring and assessment purposes. Our objectives were to compare different alcohol availability estimates for Spain, to build the best estimate (actual consumption), characterize its time trend during 2001-2011, and quantify the extent to which other estimates (coverage) approximated actual consumption.

METHODS: Estimates were: alcohol availability from the Spanish Tax Agency (Tax Agency availability), World Health Organization (WHO availability) and other international agencies, self-reported purchases from the Spanish Food Consumption Panel, and self-reported consumption from population surveys. Analyses included calculating: between-agency discrepancy in availability, multisource availability (correcting Tax Agency availability by underestimation of wine and cider), actual consumption (adjusting multisource availability by unrecorded alcohol consumption/purchases and alcohol losses), and coverage of selected estimates. Sensitivity analyses were undertaken. Time trends were characterized by joinpoint regression.

RESULTS: Between-agency discrepancy in alcohol availability remained high in 2011, mainly because of wine and spirits, although some decrease was observed during the study period. The actual consumption was 9.5 l of pure alcohol/person-year in 2011, decreasing 2.3 % annually, mainly due to wine and spirits. 2011 coverage of WHO availability, Tax Agency availability, self-reported purchases, and self-reported consumption was 99.5, 99.5, 66.3, and 28.0 %, respectively, generally with downward trends (last three estimates, especially self-reported consumption). The multisource availability overestimated actual consumption by 12.3 %, mainly due to tourism imbalance.

CONCLUSIONS: Spanish estimates of per capita alcohol consumption show considerable weaknesses. Using uncorrected estimates, especially self-reported consumption, for monitoring or other purposes is misleading. To obtain conservative estimates of alcohol-attributable disease burden or heavy drinking prevalence, self-reported consumption should be shifted upwards by more than 85 % (91 % in 2011) of Tax Agency or WHO availability figures. The weaknesses identified can probably also be found worldwide, thus much empirical work remains to be done to improve estimates of per capita alcohol consumption.

21 April 2016 In Liver Disease

BACKGROUND: The alcohol-attributable fraction (AAF) quantifies alcohol's disease burden. Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is influenced by alcohol consumption per capita, duration, gender, ethnicity, and other comorbidities. In this study, we investigated the association between AAF/alcohol-related liver mortality and alcohol consumption per capita, while stratifying to per-capita gross domestic product (GDP).

METHODS: Data obtained from the World Health Organization and World Bank for both genders on AAF on liver disease, per-capita alcohol consumption (L/y), and per-capita GDP (USD/y) were used to conduct a cross-sectional study. Countries were classified as "high-income" and "very low income" if their respective per-capita GDP was greater than $30,000 or less than $1,000. Differences in total alcohol consumption per capita and AAF were calculated using a 2-sample t test. Scatterplots were generated to supplement the Pearson correlation coefficients, and F test was conducted to assess for differences in variance of ALD between high-income and very low income countries.

FINDINGS: Twenty-six and 27 countries met the criteria for high-income and very low income countries, respectively. Alcohol consumption per capita was higher in high-income countries. AAF and alcohol consumption per capita for both genders in high-income and very low income countries had a positive correlation. The F test yielded an F value of 1.44 with P = .357. No statistically significant correlation was found among alcohol types and AAF. Significantly higher mortality from ALD was found in very low income countries relative to high-income countries.

DISCUSSION: Previous studies had noted a decreased AAF in low-income countries as compared to higher-income countries. However, the non-statistically significant difference between AAF variances of low-income and high-income countries was found by this study. A possible explanation is that both high-income and low-income populations will consume sufficient amount of alcohol, irrespective of its type, enough to weigh into equivalent AAF.

CONCLUSIONS: No significant difference of AAF variance was found between high-income and very low income countries relating to sex-specific alcohol consumption per capita. Alcohol consumption per capita was greater in high-income countries. Type of preferred alcohol did not correlate with AAF. ALD related mortality was less in high-income countries as a result of better developed healthcare systems. ALD remains a significant burden globally, requiring prevention from socioeconomic, medical, and political realms.

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