Drinking Patterns Vary by Gender, Age and Country-Level Income: Cross-country Analysis of the International Alcohol Control Study
Introduction and aims
Gender and age patterns of alcohol use are important in guiding country responses to alcohol harm. This study undertook cross-country analysis of alcohol use across gender, age groups in some high-and middle-income countries.
Design and methods
Surveys of alcohol users were conducted in Australia, England, Scotland, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis (high-income), Thailand, South Africa, Mongolia and Vietnam (middle-income) as part of the International Alcohol Control Study. Alcohol use pattern measures were high-frequency, heavier-typical quantity and higher-risk alcohol use. Differences in the alcohol use patterns across age and gender groups were calculated. Logistic regression models were applied including a measure of country-level income.
Percentages of high-frequency, heavier-typical quantity and higher-risk alcohol use were greater among men than in women in all countries. Older age was associated with using alcohol more frequently but smaller typical quantities especially in high-income countries. Middle-income countries overall showed less frequent but heavier typical quantities; however, the lower frequencies meant the percentages of higher risk alcohol users were lower overall compared with high-income countries (with the exception of South Africa).
Discussion and conclusions
High-frequency alcohol use was greater in high-income countries, particularly in older age groups. Middle-income countries overall showed less frequent alcohol use but heavier typical quantities. As alcohol use becomes more normalised as a result of the expansion of commercial alcohol it is likely frequency of alcohol use will increase with a likelihood of greater numbers alcohol use at higher risk levels.