30 April 2019 In Drinking Patterns

In this article, we critically evaluate the evidence relating to the effects of the Mediterranean diet (MD) on the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Strong evidence indicating that the MD prevents CVD has come from prospective cohort studies. However, there is only weak supporting evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) as none have compared subjects who follow an MD and those who do not. Instead, RCTs have tested the effect of 1 or 2 features of the MD. This was the case in the Prevenciomicronn con Dieta Mediterranea (PREDIMED) study: the major dietary change in the intervention groups was the addition of either extravirgin olive oil or nuts. Meta-analyses generally suggest that the MD causes small favorable changes in risk factors for CVD, including blood pressure, blood glucose, and waist circumference. However, the effect on blood lipids is generally weak. The MD may also decrease several biomarkers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein. The 7 key features of the MD can be divided into 2 groups. Some are clearly protective against CVD (olive oil as the main fat; high in legumes; high in fruits/vegetables/nuts; and low in meat/meat products and increased in fish). However, other features of the MD have a less clear relationship with CVD (low/moderate alcohol use, especially red wine; high in grains/cereals; and low/moderate in milk/dairy). In conclusion, the evidence indicates that the MD prevents CVD. There is a need for RCTs that test the effectiveness of the MD for preventing CVD. Key design features for such a study are proposed.

30 April 2019 In Drinking Patterns

This study examined changes in public knowledge of low-risk drinking, explored factors associated with knowledge level and its relationship with a reduction in alcohol consumption. Data (n=153,820) of six waves of the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, conducted during the period 2001-2016, were analysed. Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol was applied to compute participants' knowledge of low-risk drinking. This guideline was introduced in 2001 and later revised in 2009. Multivariable log-binomial regression model was used to analyse the pooled dataset. Subgroup analysis examined the relationship between knowledge score and a reduction in alcohol consumption across drinker categories. Public knowledge was better for long-term than short-term low-risk drinking, and women had better knowledge than men. Since 2010 there has been a small increase in knowledge of low-risk drinking. Although level of knowledge improved over time, it appears to align more towards the 2001-guideline, particularly for the recommended limits for men. Those who were relatively old; were women; received at least year-10 or more education; were not residing in the most disadvantaged areas; identified themselves as either light-, social-, heavy- or binge-drinkers; were currently/previously married; or perceived their health 'excellent' were significantly more likely than others to have an accurate knowledge of low-risk drinking. There was a positive association between knowledge score and the reduction in alcohol consumption among the self-reported social drinkers, heavy drinkers and binge drinkers. Tailored interventions are recommended for those who lack adequate knowledge and drink at a risky level.

26 February 2019 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Low-risk thresholds for alcohol use differ across various national guidelines. To assess the novel WHO risk drinking levels in light of alcohol-sensitive common laboratory tests, we analysed biomarkers of liver status, inflammation and lipid profiles from a population-based survey of individuals classified to abstainers and different WHO risk drinking levels defined in terms of mean alcohol consumption per day. The study included 22,327 participants aged 25-74 years from the National FINRISK Study. Data on alcohol use, health status, diet, body weight and lifestyle (smoking, coffee consumption and physical activity) were recorded from structured interviews. Alcohol data from self-reports covering the past 12 months were used to categorize the participants into subgroups of abstainers and WHO risk drinking categories representing low, moderate, high and very high risk drinkers. Serum liver enzymes (GGT, ALT), C-reactive protein (CRP) and lipid profiles were measured using standard laboratory techniques. Alcohol risk category was roughly linearly related with the occurrence of elevated values for GGT, ALT and CRP. Alcohol drinking also significantly influenced the incidence of abnormalities in serum lipids. Significantly higher odds for abnormal GGT, ALT and altered lipid profiles remained in alcohol drinkers even after adjustment for age, waist circumference, physical inactivity, smoking and coffee consumption. A more systematic use of laboratory tests during treatment of individuals classified to WHO risk drinking categories may improve the assessment of alcohol-related health risks. Follow-ups of biomarker responses may also prove to be useful in health interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.

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