Newly at risk? Using Health Survey for England data to retrospectively explore the characteristics of newly defined at-risk drinkers following the change to the UK Low Risk Drinking Guidelines

First published: 09/05/2019 | Last updated: May 20th, 2019

AIMS

To retrospectively establish 1) the number of additional men drinking at increasing risk levels according to the revised UK Low Risk Drinking Guidelines, and 2) whether this group of newly defined increasing risk male drinkers shared any characteristics.

DESIGN

A cross-sectional nationally representative household survey in England.

SETTING

Private households in England.

PARTICIPANTS

1) Men aged 16+ participating in the Health Survey for England (HSE) in 2011-2015 (N=3487-3790).

2) Male HSE 2015 participants aged 16+ reporting any alcohol consumption in past 12 months (N=2982).

MEASUREMENTS

Average weekly alcohol consumption was grouped into: non-drinkers; lower risk drinkers (≤14 units/week); newly defined increasing risk drinkers (>14 to ≤21 units/week) and increasing/higher risk drinkers (>21 units/week).

FINDINGS

Population prevalence estimates of newly defined increasing risk drinkers ranged from 10.2% (2,182,401 men)-11.2% (2,322,896 men) from 2011 to 2014. Lower risk drinkers were significantly less likely (p<0.05) than newly defined increasing risk drinkers to be aged 55-64 (RRR=0.43, 95%CI=0.21-0.87); working in professional/managerial occupations (RRR=0.61, 95%CI=0.45-0.83); living in the North East (RRR=0.47, 95%CI=0.29-0.77), North West (RRR=0.56, 95%CI=0.38-0.82), West Midlands (RRR=0.52, 95%CI=0.32-0.83) or South West (RRR=0.57, 95%CI=0.36-0.91); and to be ex-regular (RRR=0.62, 95%CI=0.46-0.83) or current (RRR=0.56, 95%CI=0.39-0.81) smokers.  Increasing/higher risk drinkers were significantly more likely than newly defined increasing risk drinkers to be ex-regular smokers (RRR=1.42, 95%CI=1.01-1.99).

CONCLUSIONS

An increase in at-risk drinkers could impact clinical services.  Newly defined increasing risk drinkers differ from lower risk drinkers on several characteristics but are largely like increasing/higher risk drinkers, therefore targeting this group specifically may not be feasible.

Co-Authors

Dr Linda Ng Fat, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Prof Nicola Shelton, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London


Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest

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Ms Philippa Case