21 September 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health, we estimate the effect of peers' alcohol consumption and alcohol prices on the drinking habits of high-school-age youth. We use the two-stage residual inclusion method to account for the endogeneity of peer drinking in nonlinear models. For our sample of high school students, we find that peer effects are statistically and economically significant regarding the choice to participate in drinking but are not significant for the frequency of drinking, including binge drinking. Regarding alcohol prices, even though we have good price variation in our sample, alcohol prices are not found to be significant. The results are important for policymakers who are considering policies to reduce underage drinking, as we conclude that no significant impact on underage drinking will result from low-tax states' increasing excise taxes on alcohol so they are similar to those of high-tax states. Policymakers may choose to focus instead on the influence of peers and changing the social norm behavior.

21 September 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Parental drinking has been shown to be associated with offspring drinking. However, the relationship appears to be more complex than often assumed and few studies have tracked it over longer time periods. AIMS: To explore the long-term (10-year) transmission of familial drinking during adolescence to offspring drinking patterns in young adulthood.

DESIGN: Swedish longitudinal study, assessing the relationship between familial drinking in 2000 and offspring drinking in 2010 using simultaneous quantile regression analysis (n=744). DATA: Data on familial drinking was gathered from the Swedish level-of-living surveys (LNU) and from partner LNU in 2000 while data on offspring drinking in young adulthood was gathered from LNU 2010. Drinking among offspring, parents and potential stepparents was measured through identical quantity-frequency indices referring to the past 12 months in 2010 and 2000 respectively.

RESULTS: Young adults whose families were abstainers in 2000 drank substantially less across quintiles in 2010 than offspring of non-abstaining families. The difference, however, was not statistically significant between quintiles of the conditional distribution. Actual drinking levels in drinking families were not at all or weakly associated with drinking in offspring. Supplementary analyses confirmed these patterns.

CONCLUSION: The association between familial drinking and offspring drinking in young adulthood exhibits clear non-linear trends. Changes in the lower part of the familial drinking distribution are strongly related to drinking in young adults, but the actual levels of drinking in drinking families appear less important in shaping the drinking patterns of the offspring in young adulthood.

02 August 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Pre-drinking has been linked to subsequent heavy drinking and the engagement in multiple risky behaviors.

OBJECTIVES: The present study examined a group of adolescents who recently had a "big night out" to determine whether there were differences in their pre-drinking behavior based on age, gender, geographic location, and social setting.

METHODS: Participants (n = 351, aged 16-19) representing the heaviest 20-25% of drinkers in their age group were recruited using nonrandom sampling from metropolitan (Melbourne, Sydney, Perth) or regional (Bunbury) locations across Australia and administered a survey by a trained interviewer.

RESULTS: Almost half the sample pre-drank (n = 149), most commonly at a friend's house. Those aged 18-19 were more likely to pre-drink, and did so at higher quantities compared to their younger counterparts. Males and females reported similar pre-drinking duration, quantity and amount spent on alcohol. Compared to those in cities, regional participants consumed greater quantities over longer periods of time. Two-thirds of participants consumed alcohol in excess of national guidelines during their pre-drinking session. These participants were more likely to nominate price as a motivation to pre-drink and were less likely to report that someone else provided them alcohol.

CONCLUSIONS: This study sheds light on the pre-drinking habits of a population of young risky drinkers, and highlights the need for policy makers to address this form of drinking to reduce alcohol-related harm among young people.

02 August 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: There is consistent evidence that individuals in higher socioeconomic status groups are more likely to report exceeding recommended drinking limits, but those in lower socioeconomic status groups experience more alcohol-related harm. This has been called the 'alcohol harm paradox'. Such studies typically use standard cut-offs to define heavy drinking, which are exceeded by a large proportion of adults. Our study pools data from six years (2008-2013) of the population-based Health Survey for England to test whether the socioeconomic distribution of more extreme levels of drinking could help explain the paradox.

METHODS: The study included 51,498 adults from a representative sample of the adult population of England for a cross-sectional analysis of associations between socioeconomic status and self-reported drinking. Heavy weekly drinking was measured at four thresholds, ranging from 112 g+/168 g + (alcohol for women/men, or 14/21 UK standard units) to 680 g+/880 g + (or 85/110 UK standard units) per week. Heavy episodic drinking was also measured at four thresholds, from 48 g+/64 g + (or 6/8 UK standard units) to 192 g+/256 g + (or 24/32 UK standard units) in one day. Socioeconomic status indicators were equivalised household income, education, occupation and neighbourhood deprivation.

RESULTS: Lower socioeconomic status was associated with lower likelihoods of exceeding recommended limits for weekly and episodic drinking, and higher likelihoods of exceeding more extreme thresholds. For example, participants in routine or manual occupations had 0.65 (95 % CI 0.57-0.74) times the odds of exceeding the recommended weekly limit compared to those in 'higher managerial' occupations, and 2.15 (95 % CI 1.06-4.36) times the odds of exceeding the highest threshold. Similarly, participants in the lowest income quintile had 0.60 (95 % CI 0.52-0.69) times the odds of exceeding the recommended weekly limit when compared to the highest quintile, and 2.30 (95 % CI 1.28-4.13) times the odds of exceeding the highest threshold.

CONCLUSIONS: Low socioeconomic status groups are more likely to drink at extreme levels, which may partially explain the alcohol harm paradox. Policies that address alcohol-related health inequalities need to consider extreme drinking levels in some sub-groups that may be associated with multiple markers of deprivation. This will require a more disaggregated understanding of drinking practices.

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