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Increased Alcohol Consumption Among Swedish 70-Year-Olds 1976 to 2016: Analysis of Data from The Gothenburg H70 Birth Cohort Studies, Sweden

Journal article
Authors Felicia Ahlner
Robert Sigström
Therese Rydberg Sterner
Madeleine Mellqvist Fässberg
Silke Kern
Svante Östling
Margda Waern
Ingmar Skoog
Published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 42
Issue 12
Pages 2403-2412
ISSN 0145-6008
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Centre for Ageing and Health (Agecap)
Pages 2403-2412
Language en
Keywords 70-Year-Olds, Alcohol, Birth Cohort, H70, Older Adults
Subject categories Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


© 2018 by the Research Society on Alcoholism Background: The older adult population is increasing worldwide, as is the number of older adults who consume alcohol. Although there is a growing body of research on alcohol consumption among older people, few studies focus on changes in at-risk consumption over time across well-defined birth cohorts of older adults. Methods: This study used a serial cross-sectional design in order to compare alcohol consumption patterns among birth cohorts of Swedish 70-year-olds (total n = 2,268) examined in 1976 to 1977 (n = 393), 1992 to 1993 (n = 248), 2000 to 2002 (n = 458), and 2014 to 2016 (n = 1,169). Participants took part in a multidisciplinary study on health and aging. Face-to-face interviews were conducted by healthcare professionals. Protocols regarding alcohol consumption were similar for all cohorts. The volume of weekly alcohol consumption was estimated during the past month. At-risk consumption was defined as ≥100 g alcohol/wk corresponding roughly to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism definition of heavy consumption. Results: The proportion of at-risk consumers among men increased from 16.1% in 1976 to 1977 to 29.9% in 2000 to 2002 (p = 0.001) and 45.3% in 2014 to 2016 (p < 0.001). In women, proportions were low in 1976 to 1977 (0.5%) and 1992 to 1993 (2.0%; p = 0.134), but increased to 9.5% in 2000 to 2002 (p < 0.001) and 24.3% in 2014 to 2016 (p < 0.001). The male:female ratio regarding consumption of ≥100 g/wk decreased from 32.2:1 in 1976 to 1977 to 3.1:1 in 2000 to 2002 to 1.9:1 in 2014 to 2016. Spirit consumption decreased dramatically among men during the study period, while women reported very low spirit consumption at all examinations. Wine consumption increased in both sexes between 2000 to 2002 and 2014 to 2016. Beer consumption increased among men between 2000 to 2002 and 2014 to 2016. Conclusions: Recent cohorts of 70-year-olds in Sweden report significantly higher levels of alcohol consumption than previous cohorts. There was a dramatic increase in at-risk consumption among 70-year-olds from the 1970s to the mid-2010s, and this was particularly pronounced among women.

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