Daily Archives: 12/05/2015

How alcohol intake can change over a lifetime

This entire post is reblogged from Behind The Headlines over at NHS Choices and looks at the research that was reported in the Daily Mail looking at how alcohol intake changes over a lifetime.

Binge drinking peaks at 25 … but by middle age he’s drinking daily,” the Mail Online reports. In what has been described as the first of its kind, a new study has tried to track the average adult drinking pattern over the course of a lifespan.

Researchers combined information from nine studies, following almost 60,000 people, to model how average alcohol intake changes over a lifetime in men and women in the UK.

It found that, in men, alcohol consumption rose considerably in adolescence and peaked at around 20 units per week (around six pints of higher-strength lager) at age 25, before decreasing. Drinking daily or on most days of the week became more common in mid-life to older age. A similar pattern was seen in women, but they drank less (around seven to eight units a week).

The authors note that they were not able to obtain complete information on drinking patterns, as all the studies collected information in different ways. This means that while the study can tell us about average behaviours, it can’t tell us whether people were binge drinking or not.

While there is more to be learned in this area, the study gives an insight into estimated average alcohol consumption over time in the UK.

The study was carried out by researchers from University College London and other universities in the UK. Two of the researchers were funded by the European Research Council, and the studies they utilised data from were funded by the Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, Stroke Association, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, and National Institute on Aging.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Medicine on an open-access basis, so it is free to read online or download as a PDF.

It had several graphs included that demonstrated pictorially the findings:

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When I look at the graph above all I can say is it does not represent my drinking history.

s12916-015-0273-z-2

And when I look at this one pertaining to women’s drinking data I think – well it doesn’t really tell me anything as there is no consistent pattern!  So the research is interesting but not really informative to me.  What do you think?