29 October 2018 In Drinking Patterns

OBJECTIVE: Labels indicating low/light versions of tobacco and foods are perceived as less harmful, which may encourage people to consume more. There is an absence of evidence concerning the impact on consumption of labeling alcohol products as lower in strength. The current study tests the hypothesis that labeling wine and beer as lower in alcohol increases their consumption.

METHOD: Weekly wine and beer drinkers (n = 264) sampled from a representative panel of the general population of England were randomized to one of three groups to taste test drinks in a bar-laboratory varying only in the label displayed; Group 1: verbal descriptor Super Low combined with 4% alcohol by volume (ABV) for wine/1% ABV for beer; Group 2: verbal descriptor Low combined with 8% ABV for wine/3% ABV for beer; Group 3: no verbal descriptors of strength (Regular). Primary outcome was total volume (ml) of drink consumed.

RESULTS: The results supported the study hypothesis: the total amount of drink consumed increased as the label on the drink denoted successively lower alcohol strength, BLin = .71, p = .015, 95% CI [0.13, 1.30]. Group contrasts showed significant differences between those offered drinks labeled as Super Low (M = 213.77) compared with Regular (M = 176.85), B = 1.43, p = .019, 95% CI [0.24, 2.61]. There was no significant difference in amount consumed between those offered drinks labeled as Low compared with Regular.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that labeling drinks as lower in strength increases the amount consumed. Further studies are warranted to test for replication in non-laboratory settings and to estimate whether any effects are at a level with the potential to harm health.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN15530806. (PsycINFO Database Record)

27 September 2018 In General Health

The Mediterranean diet (MD) has been associated with prolonged survival in the general population, but no meta-analysis has apparently investigated the potential health benefits in relation to mortality in the elderly. We performed a longitudinal analysis on 5200 individuals aged >/=65 years identified within the general population recruited in the Moli-sani study cohort (2005-2010). Adherence to the MD was appraised by the a priori Mediterranean diet score (MDS; range 0-9). Survival estimates were derived using Cox regression and competing risk models. For the meta-analysis, PubMed and Scopus databases were searched from inception until April 2018 to identify prospective studies on the MD and death risk in the elderly. Over a median follow-up of 8.1 years, a total of 900 deaths were ascertained in the elderly sub-sample of the Moli-sani cohort. A one-point increase in the MDS was associated with lower risk of all-cause, coronary artery disease/cerebrovascular and non-cardiovascular/non-cancer mortality (multi-variable hazard ratio (HR)=0.94; 95 % CI 0.90, 0.98; HR=0.91; 95 % CI 0.83, 0.99 and HR=0.89; 95 % CI 0.81, 0.96, respectively). In a meta-analysis of seven prospective studies, including our results, for a total of 11 738 participants and 3874 deaths, one-point increment in MDS was associated with 5 % (4-7 %) lower risk of all-cause death. An inverse linear dose-response relationship was found from a meta-analysis including three studies. In conclusion, a prospective cohort study and a meta-analysis showed that closer adherence to the MD was associated with prolonged survival in elderly individuals, suggesting the appropriateness for older persons to adopt/preserve the MD to maximise their prospects for survival.

27 September 2018 In Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: Current research into alcohol consumption focuses predominantly on problematic drinkers and populations considered likely to engage in risky behaviours. Middle-aged drinkers are an under-researched group, despite emerging evidence that their regular drinking patterns may carry some risk.

METHODS: We searched Scopus, Ovid Medline, and Ovid PsycInfo for peer-reviewed, English-language publications appearing prior to 31 December 2015 and relating to the construction of alcohol consumption by middle-aged non-problematised drinkers. Thirteen papers were included in our thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Middle-aged non-problematised drinkers constructed their drinking practices by creating a narrative of normative drinking via discourses of gender, identity, play, and learning to drink. They also used drinking norms to construct their gender and identity. Health was not identified as a significant consideration for the population of interest when constructing alcohol consumption, except where drinking behaviours were likely to harm another.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that public health campaigns aimed at reducing alcohol consumption may be more effective if they focus on unacceptable drinking behaviours instead of personal health outcomes.

27 September 2018 In Drinking 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.

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