People drink alcohol for a number of reasons. This study focused on understanding why people drink and the consequences of their drinking. First, researchers identified "clusters" of drinkers in New Zealand, based on how much alcohol they drank, their beverage of choice, and a preference for public or private drinking locations. Second, it investigated the relations among drinker types and harms experienced, and considered their policy implications.
The study included 1,496 drinkers (902 women, 594 men), ages 16 to 68 years and inquired regarding how much alcohol they consumed as beer, wine, spirits and/or ready-to-drinks (RTDs), in both off- and on-premise settings. Cluster membership was then related to harm measures, such as alcohol dependence and self-rated health, and three policy-relevant variables: a liking for alcohol advertisements, price paid for alcohol, and time of its purchase.
Consumption patterns were distinctive enough to allow the differentiation of typologies of male and female alcohol consumers. Overall, women drinkers were more diverse than men, comprising 14 clearly discriminated clusters, while men drinkers were placed into four such clusters. Male clusters consumed a relatively high proportion of alcohol in the form of beer. Female clusters consumed mainly spirits-based RTDs or wine.
These findings have important policy implications because individuals in the higher-consuming clusters were more likely to have signs of alcohol dependence, report lower health satisfaction, enjoy alcohol ads, and have purchased alcohol late at night.
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