Heavy drinking into older age adds 4cm to waistline
6 April 2020
A new Whitehall II paper found that more than half of drinkers aged 59 and over have been heavy drinkers and this is linked to a significantly larger waistline and increased stroke risk.
The study, published in the journal Addiction, examined the association between heavy drinking over a lifetime and a range of health indicators including cardiovascular disease.
It found that heavy alcohol consumption over a lifetime is associated with higher blood pressure, poorer liver function, increased stroke risk, larger waist circumferences and body mass index (BMI) in later life, even if you stop drinking heavily before age 50. However, stopping heavy drinking at any point in life is likely to be beneficial for overall health.
A heavy drinker was identified using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test for Consumption (AUDIT-C), a standard screening tool for GPs. The screening tool consists of just three questions, and assesses how often you drink, how much you drink, and how often you binge (have six or more drinks). To provide an example a person who has three or four drinks, four or more times a week, would score positive as a hazardous drinker on the AUDIT-C.
Professor Annie Britton (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care), senior author on the study, said: “Despite high prevalence of stroke and liver disease steadily increasing in the United Kingdom, heavy drinking remains common among older adults.
“Early intervention and screening for alcohol consumption, as part of regular check-ups, could help reduce hazardous drinking among this demographic.”
The Study has been published in Addiction:
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