Health experts fear that older affluent adults are becoming a generation with a notable drinking problem. Dangerous alcohol consumption is higher among representatives of the middle class.
A recent paper published in BMJ Open suggests that people over the age of 50 who have done well in life, who are educated and wealthy, have a higher likelihood of developing harmful drinking behaviors than their less-wealthy counterparts.
In total, researchers conducting the study examined the drinking habits of 9,250 study participants and investigated whether this pattern could be connected to any aspect of the participants’ lives, from income and lifestyle to social and family situation.
Professor Jose Iparraguirre, lead study author and Age UK Chief Economist, notes that the findings of the study clearly highlight the harmful drinking patterns that affluent adults seem to follow. The better and more successful your ageing process is, the higher the likelihood of developing a dangerous relationship with alcohol.
“We recommend the explicit incorporation of alcohol drinking levels and patterns into the successful ageing paradigm,” he explains.
What Iparraguirre and his colleagues concluded was that the wealthier and better educated a study participant was, the higher his or her likelihood was of consuming large amounts of alcohol (for men, over than 21 units per week and for women, more than 14 units per week). This translates into more than 4.2 liters of beer respectively one and a half bottle of wine.
The researchers’ conclusions paint a rather worrisome picture, as they suggest that heavy drinking has become a middle-class phenomenon. Of course, heavy drinking could also be reflective of other issues, such as depression, however, study authors found that neither loneliness nor depression were linked to harmful drinking behavior among the study participants.
On the other hand, being divorced, separated or single was connected to increased drinking. The team’s analysis, based on data collected in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (Elsa) showed that, for men, risky drinking peaked around the age of 60 and gradually decreased. For women, harmful alcohol consumption slowly tailed off as they aged, despite the fact that it increased after their retirement.
At the same time, growing scientific evidence suggests that young adults are consuming less alcohol than in the past.
Curiously though, researchers believe that this recent shift in perception as to drinking patterns among adults may reveal how inefficient public health strategies are at reaching those groups that are most at risk. Moreover, they are convinced that because of these groups’ good health, older adults consuming excessive quantities of alcohol may even underestimate the danger they are putting themselves in.
Photo credits: Daily Worth
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