The Rich and Otherwise Healthy May Drink Too Much

The Rich and Otherwise Healthy May Drink Too Much

In an interesting study of 9,000 people in the UK, researchers found that otherwise healthy and affluent individuals drink too much, which can cause negative impacts to health.

The study concludes:

Several socioeconomic factors are associated with high-risk alcohol consumption behaviour among older people, which must be factored in when designing and evaluating preventative interventions. Without repeating the findings discussed above, we can sketch—at the risk of much simplification—the problem of harmful alcohol drinking among people aged 50 or over in England as a middle-class phenomenon: people in better health, higher income, with higher educational attainment and socially more active are more likely to drink at harmful levels. This characterisation mirrors the main results from some studies among people of working age.

This means that even with good education, older, affluent individuals either don’t know or ignore the health risks associated with over-consumption of alcohol.

Alice Walton at Forbes reports of this study:

“Higher risk drinking” was of particular interest to the research team. This is defined as more than 50 units of alcohol per week for men and more than 35 units for women. A small glass wine or beer is about two to three units, depending on the size, so higher-risk drinking is the equivalent of 17-25 glasses a week for men and 12-17 glasses for women. That’s a fair amount of alcohol.

Higher-risk drinking peaked for men around age 60, and then fell off during the next decades of life. For women it was highest at age 50 and then fell off over the next decades.

Is the message that drinking is harmful to health not reaching the older, more affluent individuals in this study or do the affluent feel a sense of entitlement, having a belief that nothing will harm them or that the rules don’t apply to them? Either, both or neither may be the case. What is significant is that the message about harmful drinking is not reaching this population, so different, more effective and targeted messages, must be used going forward.

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