Friday, September 12, 2008

HEALTH: Study: Americans Drinking Less Alcohol, More Wine

(previously published here at

Americans may drink more in one sitting than some Europeans (who drink steadily in small amounts), but their average overall alcohol intake has decreased across age and gender differences, according to a study published last week in the American Journal of Medicine.

The results from a 55-year study (1948-2003) on 8,600 white adults in Framingham, Mass., found Americans drink less as they get older, and they tend to gravitate away from beer and toward wine in the process. Each successive generation also showed a trend from heavier drinking toward moderate drinking.

All participants were initially at least 28 years old and were born between 1900 and 1959.
The average amount of alcohol intake was highest between ages 30 and 50 for most cohorts, regardless of gender.

Up to their mid-30s, young men relied on beer for at least half of their alcohol consumption. After that, beer consumption dropped to around one-quarter of the average male in his mid-70s.

While both men and women in each generation drank less with age and each generation drank less than the generation before it, the overall incidence rate of an alcohol use disorder among those aged 40 to 79 years was about three times higher among men (12.8 percent) than women (3.8 percent).

Female participants also showed a move from beer to wine over time, although the report's authors noted that they were less partial to beer to begin with. No significant alcohol-related problems were linked with women here, but a report by University of Washington researchers in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that women born after 1953 had rising rates of alcoholism.

Lead author Yuqing Zhang, D.Sc., of the Boston University School of Medicine, told WebMD he doesn't know why the rates of alcohol use dropped over generations and this study "did not try to answer these questions."

The long-term health study collected data by asking participants to answer questions about their lifestyle and health, including alcohol consumption over time. Researchers hoped that the data would help determine patterns of alcohol use and disorders according to sex, age and birth cohorts.

The study, supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (part of the National Institutes of Health), is not clearly representative of all U.S. adults, but researchers said the data supports the efficacy of efforts to reduce alcohol use disorders.

Researchers also hope the data may be useful for policy-making groups responsible for drinking and alcohol recommendations, continuing "to support potentially beneficial effects of moderate drinking on cardiovascular disease and other diseases of aging, as well as adverse health and social effects of heavy alcohol use."

Heather J. Chin can be reached at

©The Evening Bulletin 2008

No comments: