25 August 2020 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Alcohol intake is widely assumed to contribute to excess body fatness, especially among young men; however, the evidence is inconsistent. We have addressed this research question by investigating associations between reported alcohol consumption and body composition from large representative national surveys in a high alcohol-consuming country with a high obesity prevalence.

METHODS: The present study comprised a secondary analysis of combined cross-sectional nationally representative Scottish Health Surveys (1995-2010). Reported alcohol-drinking frequency was divided into five groups: from 'nonfrequent drinking' (reference) to daily/'almost every day' among 35 837 representative adults [mean (SD) age: 42.7 (12.7) years (range 18-64 years)]. Quantitative alcohol consumption was categorised into seven groups: from '1-7 to >/=50 10 g units per week'. Regression models against measured body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) were adjusted for age, physical activity, income, smoking, deprivation category and economic status.

RESULTS: Among alcohol-consuming men, heavier drinking (21-28 units per week) was associated with a higher BMI by +1.4 kg m(-2) [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.38-1.43] and higher WC by +3.4 cm (95% CI = 3.2-3.6) than drinking 1-7 units per week. However, those who reported daily drinking frequency were associated with a lower BMI by -2.45 kg m(-2) (95% CI = -2.4 to -2.5) and lower WC by -3.7 cm (95% CI = -3.3 to -4.0) than those who reported less-frequent drinking. Similar associations were found for women. Most of these associations were restricted to subjects aged >30 years. Unexplained variances in BMI and WC are large.

CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative alcohol consumption and frequency of consumption were positively and inversely associated, respectively, with both BMI and WC among alcohol-consuming adults. Surveys are needed that evaluate both the quantity and frequency of consumption. The lowest BMI and WC were associated with a 'Mediterranean' drinking style (i.e. relatively little, but more frequently)

25 August 2020 In General Health

PURPOSE: The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) have been widely studied. However, controversy remains for one of its components: alcohol intake. We aimed to assess the joint effect of adherence to the MedDiet and alcohol-drinking pattern on all-cause mortality.

METHODS: We used data from 20,506 subjects from a prospective cohort of Spanish university graduates, the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) cohort. Adherence to the MedDiet was operationalized using four different dietary indexes and then categorized in low or high adherence, according to the median score. Alcohol-drinking pattern was evaluated with the previously defined the Mediterranean alcohol-drinking pattern (MADP), grouped into three categories of adherence (low, moderate and high adherence) and a fourth category for abstainers. The outcome was all-cause mortality.

RESULTS: During a median follow-up of 12.1 years, we observed 460 deaths. No statistically significant supra-multiplicative interaction between the two exposures was found. Low adherence to both the MedDiet and MADP was associated with higher all-cause mortality compared to high adherence to both exposures [multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio (HR) = 2.02, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.33-3.07]. Similar results were found for cancer mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the combined effect of the MedDiet and MADP was not significantly higher than the product of their individual effects, a low adherence to both the MedDiet and MADP was associated with higher rates of all-cause mortality. This report also shows the usefulness of the dietary pattern approach applied to alcohol intake and of including the drinking pattern as another component of the MedDiet.

25 August 2020 In Drinking Patterns

AIMS: The aims of the article are (a) to estimate coverage rates (i.e. the proportion of 'real consumption' accounted for by a survey compared with more reliable aggregate consumption data) of the total, the recorded and the beverage-specific annual per capita consumption in 23 European countries, and (b) to investigate differences between regions, and other factors which might be associated with low coverage (prevalence of heavy episodic drinking [HED], survey methodology).

METHODS: Survey data were derived from the Standardised European Alcohol Survey and Harmonising Alcohol-related Measures in European Surveys (number of surveys: 39, years of survey: 2008-2015, adults aged 20-64 years). Coverage rates were calculated at the aggregated level by dividing consumption estimates derived from the surveys by alcohol per capita estimates from a recent global modelling study. Fractional response regression models were used to examine the relative importance of the predictors.

RESULTS: Large variation in coverage across European countries was observed (average total coverage: 36.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] [33.2; 39.8]), with lowest coverage found for spirits consumption (26.3, 95% CI [21.4; 31.3]). Regarding the second aim, the prevalence of HED was associated with wine- and spirits-specific coverage, explaining 10% in the respective variance. However, neither the consideration of regions nor survey methodology explained much of the variance in coverage estimates, regardless of the scenario.

CONCLUSION: The results reiterate that alcohol survey data should not be used to compare or estimate aggregate consumption levels, which may be better reflected by statistics on recorded or total per capita consumption.

25 August 2020 In Drinking Patterns

RATIONALE: Binge drinking (BD), characterized by recurring alternations between intense intoxication episodes and abstinence periods, is the most frequent alcohol consumption pattern in youth and is growing in prevalence among older adults. Many studies have underlined the specific harmful impact of this habit by showing impaired abilities in a wide range of cognitive functions among binge drinkers, as well as modifications of brain structure and function.

AIMS: Several controversies and inconsistencies currently hamper the harmonious development of the field and the recognition of BD as a specific alcohol consumption pattern. The main concern is the absence of consensual BD conceptualization, leading to variability in experimental group selection and alcohol consumption evaluation. The present paper aims at overcoming this key issue through a two-step approach.

METHODS AND CONCLUSIONS: First, a literature review allows proposing an integrated BD conceptualization, distinguishing it from other subclinical alcohol consumption patterns. Six specific characteristics of BD are identified, namely, (1) the presence of physiological symptoms related to BD episodes, (2) the presence of psychological symptoms related to BD episodes, (3) the ratio of BD episodes compared to all alcohol drinking occasions, (4) the frequency of BD episodes, (5) the consumption speed and (6) the alternation between BD episodes and soberness periods. Second, capitalizing on this conceptual clarification, we propose an evaluation protocol jointly measuring these six BD characteristics. Finally, several research perspectives are presented to refine the proposed conceptualization.

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