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The Particular Story of Italians' Relation with Alcohol: Trends in Individuals' Consumption by Age and Beverage Type

13 Apr 2016

In Italy, sales data show a dramatic fall in alcohol consumption between 1970 and 2010. The aim of our study is to provide updated information on trends, prevalence and determinants of alcohol drinking in Italy, using individual-level data.

Seven nationally representative cross-sectional surveys were conducted in Italy between 2006 and 2014, on a total sample of 21,416 participants aged ≥15 years, with available information on weekly consumption of wine, beer and spirits.

Per capita alcohol consumption decreased by 23% between 2006 and 2014 (from 5.6 to 4.4 drinks/week), due to the fall in wine drinking. Overall, the prevalence of alcohol drinkers was 61.6%. Individuals predominantly drinking wine were 35.3%, beer 11.1% and spirits 6.4%. A direct trend of drinking with age was observed for total alcohol (multivariate odds ratio, OR = 1.75 for ≥65 vs. 15–24 years) and predominant wine drinking (OR = 8.05), while an inverse trend was observed for beer (OR = 0.17) and spirit drinkers (OR = 0.33). Women (OR = 0.24), obese individuals (OR = 0.67) and those from southern Italy (OR = 0.63) were less frequently, while those with high education (OR = 1.97), ex- (OR = 1.46) and current smokers (OR = 2.17) were more frequently alcohol drinkers.

On the basis of individual-level data we confirm and further update to 2014 the decreasing trend in alcohol consumption in Italy over the last few decades, mainly due to the fall in wine consumption. This may be due to anti-alcohol policies, programs and campaigns adopted and developed over the last decade. It also reflects socio-cultural changes in drinking, particularly in younger generations.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Alcohol and Alcoholism