Latest scientific news 30 January 2020

Greater adverse effect of alcohol among lower socio-economic individuals – type of alcoholic beverage or drinking pattern?

This UK study attempts to explain the inequalities in alcohol-related harm among lower socio-economic individuals.

Alcohol-related harm was found to be higher in disadvantaged groups, despite similar alcohol consumption as advantaged groups. This is known as the alcohol harm paradox.

This study investigated whether and to what extent individual alcohol consumption by type of beverage, smoking, BMI and other factors could account for alcohol-related hospital admissions. In addition, it was examined how the patterns of consumption by beverage type differed by socioeconomic group.

The results showed that the beverage type could not explain the inequalities in alcohol-related harm. Smoking and the body weight partly explained some of these differences, but deprived groups still had a persistently higher risk of alcohol-related hospital admissions. Deprived drinkers drank more beer and in most age groups more spirits, but less wine compared to less deprived drinkers. Furthermore, the hospital admissions were greater for spirits consumers and occurred primarily in the youngest age group (age 16-29).

Gartner A et al., Drinking beer, wine or spirits – does it matter for inequalities in alcohol-related hospital admission? A record-linked longitudinal study in Wales, BMC 2019;19:1651, doi:10.1186/s12889-019-8015-3.