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Alcohol Issues Insights

While public health advocates have attacked beer marketing for years, there doesn't seem to be a huge public groundswell of ill will about television ads or other brewer efforts. Since the Beer Institute established its Code Compliance Review Board almost a year ago, the CCRB has passed judgment on only 3 television ads and 1 billboard. In each case, the Board disagreed with the suggestion that the ad violated the BI's voluntary guidelines. Looking at the 3 television ad complaints resolved in June, these viewers basically failed to appreciate their humor. One guy complained that a "Hidden Bud Light" ad was "lacking in humor or sarcastic commentary and is in no way amusing" and that the "Touch Football" ad for Michelob Ultra Amber (which shows a male hard-tackling a woman after catching a pass and ends with her knocking him off a bar stool) "seems to validate 'savage attacks.'" But the CCRB found that the Bud Light ad "clearly falls into the realm of parody or spoof" and that "Touch Football" seemed "entirely farcical and intended to suspend reality for the viewer." Similarly, the CCRB disagreed with a woman who complained that the Miller Lite Man Law "You Poke It,…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 11
Most of moderate drinking's key beneficial effects - reduced cardiovascular disease, improved cognition, stronger bones - has shown up among middle-aged and older adults. That's one reason policymakers and practitioners shy away from broad recommendations to drink. But a new international study - covering nearly 16,000 university students in 20 countries - found that young adult (age 17-30) moderate drinkers were less likely to report symptoms of depression than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers. The UK-based authors used two measures of moderate drinking, one based on number of drinks consumed per occasion and one based on number of drinks consumed in the 2 weeks prior to filling out the survey. To measure depression they used a "short (13 item) Beck Depression Inventory." They also controlled for several key potentially confounding factors: living arrangements (at home or at school), self-reported health and socio-economic status. Regardless of the moderation measure, the authors found that "fewer moderate drinkers than nondrinkers had depression levels above threshold, whereas nondrinkers and heavy drinkers did not differ." Nondrinkers were 20-25% more likely to be at risk for elevated depression levels than moderate drinkers. Once again the key finding here was a potential benefit (no causal link was found)…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 10
INSIGHTS continues to closely follow the annual Monitoring the Future Surveys of young adults, which track both drinking rates and attitudes about moderate (and heavy) drinking. Just-released data from the 2005 survey gives pause for both optimism and concern. On the positive side, the percentage of both 19-22 yr-olds and 27-30 yr-olds who "disapprove" of moderate drinking (1-2 drinks "nearly every day") fell sharply in the 2005 data, and to the lowest levels for both groups since the surveys started asking the question. While 2/3 of 27-30 yr-olds disapproved of moderate drinking in 2004, that figure dropped to 60.5% in 2005, and was down from over 73% in 1990. The disapproval rate among 19-22 yr-olds declined by 4 points in 2005 and was down from 79.7% in 1990 to 64.6% last yr. Interestingly, a slightly higher percentage of 23-26 yr olds disapproved of moderate drinking in 2005 than a year earlier, but the long-term trend among that age group also shows more acceptance of moderate drinking. Similarly, long-term trends in the percentage of young adults who believe moderate drinking poses a "great risk" to the drinker have also declined, though there were slight increases in the perception of such risk…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 9
After projecting an increase alcohol-related traffic deaths for 2005 back in April (see May INSIGHTS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revised both the 2004 and 2005 figures. As a result, NHTSA now reports a 0.2% decline in alcohol-related fatalities in 2005. That's when a driver or non-occupant has a BAC level of 0.01 or higher. Deaths in crashes where there was a BAC of 0.08 or higher declined by 0.4%. But there was a 0.9% increase in the number of deaths in crashes involving lower BACs. Importantly, the average BAC in fatal crashes remains .16, double the legal limit. The positive spin: the number of alcohol-related fatalities in 2005 (16,885) was the lowest since 1999. The not-so-positive spin: the number in 2005 was still higher than it was in 1999. Other signs that progress in reducing drunk driving has stalled: 1) the number of injuries in alcohol-related crashes increased by an estimated 2.4% in 2005; 2) the percentage of all fatalities that are alcohol related remained stuck at 39%. The 2005 data was skewed in part by a large increase in the number of motorcycle fatalities: +13% overall and +10% in alcohol-related motorcycle fatalities.

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 8
Public health advocates claim there's been little recent progress in reducing teen drinking, but the biennial federal "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance" report suggest sharper declines in many measures from 1999-2005 than 1995-1999. The table below shows significant across-the-board declines since 1995 and 1999 in rates of current drinking (at least 1once/month), episodic heavy drinking (5+ at least once/month) and either drinking and driving or riding with a drinking driver. Note too: most of these rates were lower in 2005 than 2003, further suggesting steady progress. Long-term progress remains impressive. Whether you look at gender, race or school year, there has been a double-digit drop in the percentage of teens drinking, drinking heavily and drinking and driving. Current drinking among high school students declined little from 1995-1999, but the rate dropped 13.4% from 1999 to the 2005. The dropoff was particularly sharp among young men. Female teens are still less likely to drink than male teens, but the gap narrowed from 3.3 points in 1995 to just 1 point in 2005. Current drinking also declined sharply among black youth and episodic heavy drinking plummeted among Hispanic youth: the latter rate dropped by 1/3 1995-2005. The percentage of teens who drove while…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 6
The 4th European Beer & Health Symposium, held in Brussels May 4, provided an impressive primer on the scientific research linking moderate consumption, specifically beer consumption, to a broad array of health benefits. Chaired by Prof. Jonathan Powell from the UK's Medical Research Council in Cambridge, scientists from Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and elsewhere presented papers. Here are some highlights from the abstracts, some not even couched in standard scientific language: "In sum, apparently some alcohol can make the brain work better. Different scientific papers have found that those who even drink only two glasses of beer (or one glass of wine) have significantly sharper thought processes than teetotalers." Barley and hops contain compounds that "may be involved in chemo-prevention of cancer, bone protection or cognitive function improvement." Silicon, "found at high levels in beer

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 5