18 August 2023 In General Health
BACKGROUND: Strategies to reduce alcohol consumption would contribute to substantial health benefits in the population, including reducing cancer risk. The increasing accessibility and applicability of digital technologies make these powerful tools suitable to facilitate changes in behaviour in young people which could then translate into both immediate and long-term improvements to public health. OBJECTIVE: We conducted a review of systematic reviews to assess the available evidence on digital interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption in sub-populations of young people [school-aged children, college/university students, young adults only (over 18 years) and both adolescent and young adults (<25 years)]. METHODS: Searches were conducted across relevant databases including KSR Evidence, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE). Records were independently screened by title and abstract and those that met inclusion criteria were obtained for full text screening by two reviewers. Risk of bias (RoB) was assessed with the ROBIS checklist. We employed a narrative analysis. RESULTS: Twenty-seven systematic reviews were included that addressed relevant interventions in one or more of the sub-populations, but those reviews were mostly assessed as low quality. Definitions of "digital intervention" greatly varied across systematic reviews. Available evidence was limited both by sub-population and type of intervention. No reviews reported cancer incidence or influence on cancer related outcomes. In school-aged children eHealth multiple health behaviour change interventions delivered through a variety of digital methods were not effective in preventing or reducing alcohol consumption with no effect on the prevalence of alcohol use [Odds Ratio (OR) = 1.13, 95% CI: 0.95-1.36, review rated low RoB, minimal heterogeneity]. While in adolescents and/or young adults who were identified as risky drinkers, the use of computer or mobile device-based interventions resulted in reduced alcohol consumption when comparing the digital intervention with no/minimal intervention (-13.4 g/week, 95% CI: -19.3 to -7.6, review rated low RoB, moderate to substantial heterogeneity).In University/College students, a range of E-interventions reduced the number of drinks consumed per week compared to assessment only controls although the overall effect was small [standardised mean difference (SMD): -0.15, 95% CI: -0.21 to -0.09]. Web-based personalised feedback interventions demonstrated a small to medium effect on alcohol consumption (SMD: -0.19, 95% CI: -0.27 to -0.11) (review rated high RoB, minimal heterogeneity). In risky drinkers, stand-alone Computerized interventions reduced short (SMD: -0.17, 95% CI: -0.27 to -0.08) and long term (SMD: -0.17, 95% CI: -0.30 to -0.04) alcohol consumption compared to no intervention, while a small effect (SMD: -0.15, 95% CI: -0.25 to -0.06) in favour of computerised assessment and feedback vs. assessment only was observed. No short-term (SMD: -0.10, 95% CI: -0.30 to 0.11) or long-term effect (SMD: -0.11, 95% CI: -0.53 to 0.32) was demonstrated for computerised brief interventions when compared to counsellor based interventions (review rated low RoB, minimal to considerable heterogeneity). In young adults and adolescents, SMS-based interventions did not significantly reduce the quantity of drinks per occasion from baseline (SMD: 0.28, 95% CI: -0.02 to 0.58) or the average number of standard glasses per week (SMD: -0.05, 95% CI: -0.15 to 0.05) but increased the risk of binge drinking episodes (OR = 2.45, 95% CI: 1.32-4.53, review rated high RoB; minimal to substantial heterogeneity). For all results, interpretation has limitations in terms of risk of bias and heterogeneity. CONCLUSIONS: Limited evidence suggests some potential for digital interventions, particularly those with feedback, in reducing alcohol consumption in certain sub-populations of younger people. However, this effect is often small, inconsistent or diminishes when only methodologically robust evidence is considered. There is no systematic review evidence that digital interventions reduce cancer incidence through alcohol moderation in young people. To reduce alcohol consumption, a major cancer risk factor, further methodologically robust research is warranted to explore the full potential of digital interventions and to form the basis of evidence based public health initiatives.
27 October 2022 In Cardiovascular System

Over the past several decades, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) has nearly doubled, and alcohol has played a major role in the incidence of much of it. Alcohol has also been attributed in deaths due to infectious diseases, intentional and unintentional injuries, digestive diseases, and several other non-communicable diseases, including cancer. The economic costs of alcohol-associated health outcomes are significant at the individual as well as the country level. Risks due to alcohol consumption increase for most cardiovascular diseases, including hypertensive heart disease, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and flutter, and stroke. The widespread message for over 30 years has been to promote the myth that alcohol prolongs life, chiefly by reducing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Lack of universal advice and stringent policy measures have contributed towards increased uptake and easy availability of alcohol. The WHO has called for a 10% relative reduction in the harmful use of alcohol between 2013-2025. However, lack of investment in proven alcohol control strategies, as well as persistence of misinformation and industry interference, have hindered the efforts of public health professionals to make sufficient progress in reducing alcohol related harms and death.

26 May 2021 In General Health
BACKGROUND: Alcohol harms are rising globally, and alcohol policies, where they exist, are weak or under-developed. Limited progress has been made since the formulation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Strategy in 2010. WHO is seeking to accelerate progress in implementing international efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. The threat to global health posed by tobacco is well understood by policy communities and populations globally; by contrast alcohol is much less so, despite available evidence. THE COMPETITION FOR EPISTEMIC AUTHORITY: Global alcohol corporations have sought to become trusted sources of advice for policy makers and consumers, while continuing to grow their markets. Evidence-informed public health messaging faces formidable competition from transnational corporations as the worlds of corporate and political communications, social and mainstream media become increasingly linked, presenting new opportunities for corporate actors to shape global health governance. Alcohol messaging that uses means of persuasion tied to industry agendas does not tell a clear story about commercial determinants of health, and does not contribute to health improvement. On the contrary, the basic tenets of an evidence-informed population-based approach are denied and the policy measures supported by high quality evidence are being opposed, because they are inimical to commercial interests. A David and Goliath metaphor for this state of affairs, which seems to fit at first glance, may unwittingly reinforce the status quo. CONCLUSION: Public opinion on alcohol and policy issues varies across time and place and can be influenced by dedicated public health interventions. Alcohol marketing dominates people's thinking about alcohol because we currently allow this to happen. Greater ambition is needed in developing countermarketing and other interventions to promote evidence-informed ideas with the public. Alcohol policies need to be further developed, and implemented more widely, in order to arrest the growing burden of alcohol harms across the world.
21 April 2021 In General Health

Alcohol consumption is associated with multiple diseases and might contribute to vulnerability to SARS-CoV-2 infection. It can also catalyze exacerbations of mental and organic illnesses and predispose to behaviors with an increased risk of infection, severity of disease but also independently of sociopathic behavior and violence.

Globally, millions of premature deaths from excessive alcohol consumption occur each year. This paper discusses the effects of increased alcohol consumption and the most important consequences on the health of the population during the social isolation and lockdown during current COVID-19 pandemic.

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