05 December 2018 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Some of the previously reported health benefits of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption may derive from health status influencing alcohol consumption rather than the opposite. We examined whether health status changes influence changes in alcohol consumption, cessation included.

METHODS: Data came from 571 current drinkers aged >/=60 years participating in the Seniors-ENRICA cohort in Spain. Participants were recruited in 2008-2010 and followed-up for 8.2 years, with four waves of data collection. We assessed health status using a 52-item deficit accumulation (DA) index with four domains: functional, self-rated health and vitality, mental health, and morbidity and health services use. To minimise reverse causation, we examined how changes in health status over a 3-year period (wave 0-wave 1) influenced changes in alcohol consumption over the subsequent 5 years (waves 1-3) using linear/logistic regression, as appropriate.

RESULTS: Compared with participants in the lowest tertile of DA change (mean absolute 4.3% health improvement), those in the highest tertile (7.8% worsening) showed a reduction in alcohol intake (beta: -4.32 g/day; 95% CI -7.00 to -1.62; p trend=0.002) and were more likely to quit alcohol (OR: 2.80; 95% CI 1.54 to 5.08; p trend=0.001). The main contributors to decreasing drinking were increased functional impairment and poorer self-rated health, whereas worsening self-rated health, onset of diabetes or stroke and increased prevalence of hospitalisation influenced cessation.

CONCLUSIONS: Health deterioration is related to a subsequent reduction and cessation of alcohol consumption contributing to the growing evidence challenging the protective health effect previously attributed to low-to-moderate alcohol consumption.

29 October 2018 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Lower strength alcohol products may help reduce alcohol consumption and associated harms. This study assessed the impact of labeling wine and beer with different verbal descriptors denoting lower strength, with and without percent alcohol by volume (%ABV), on product appeal and understanding of strength. Three thousand three hundred ninety adult survey-panel members were randomized to 1 of 18 groups with 1 of 3 levels of verbal descriptor (Low vs. Super Low vs. No verbal descriptor) and 6 levels of %ABV (5 levels varying for wine and beer, and no level given). Products with verbal descriptors denoting lower strength (Low and Super Low) had lower appeal than Regular strength products. Appeal decreased as %ABV decreased. Understanding of strength was generally high across the various drinks with majority of participants correctly identifying or erring on the side of caution when estimating the units and calories in a given drink, appropriateness for consumption by children, and drinking within the driving limit. We discuss the theoretical and policy implications of these findings for public health. (PsycINFO Database Record).

29 October 2018 In Drinking & Eating 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 Drinking & Eating 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.

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