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A comparison of the consequences of drinking and drinking in the 1950s and today

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Messenger Autumn is awash with alcohol, and not just because of the new vintage. Oktoberfest plays a part, too, the day festival in Munich that we associate with massive beer mugs and plenty of debauchery. Its success has prompted copycat events around the world, from London to Ontario, Glasgow to Cincinnati. Recent statistics seem to bear this out.

There are many worrying examples — like the million drink-related UK hospital admissions in alone. Similar figures can be found the world over. But if you look at European drinking habits in a historic perspective, other evidence suggests that our levels of intake are not unprecedented.

But the picture is different when measuring in a unit that adjusts for the varying strengths of beer, wine and spirits — in terms of pure ethyl alcohol.

This is equivalent to roughly pints or litres of lager per year or 0. Germany ranks 4th and the UK 9th, with 5. The corresponding list for wine is headed by Luxembourg with 9.

Over the years, trends can go up as well as down. Unweighted means of global per capita consumption to WHO Meaningful longer-term comparisons are, of course, very challenging.

Thirsty Tudors to baby boomers

Producing accurate figures for societies of the past is riddled with problems. As with all statistics, there are issues of interpretation and contextualisation, but this is magnified for periods with patchy sources and unknown variables such as beverage strengths.

  • Whitehead and Cheryl Harvey, "Explaining Alcoholism;
  • Research Traditions and Analytical Issues", pp;
  • Edizione Gruppo Abele, 1984, p;
  • As a culture is in the first stages of a drying trend, there is a great deal of consciousness-raising about the drinking of people in the cultural mainstream;
  • Heavy Use in Pase 30 days d The rate of current heavy drinking was also relatively high among high school students.

But it is possible to extrapolate from information surviving in disparate records such as household accounts, diaries, travel reports, customs books, inventories and similar genres. Thirsty Tudors to baby boomers A House of Commons Health Committee Memorandum sheds valuable light on the case study of England, illuminating fluctuating drinking habits since Tudor times.

  1. Furthermore, younger men tend to be binge drinkers and heavy drinkers when they drink.
  2. Among men, the rate of alcohol dependence was inversely correlated with the individuals' ages.
  3. WHO Meaningful longer-term comparisons are, of course, very challenging.
  4. Asians reported the lowest rates of alcohol use, binge drinking, and heavy drinking during the month prior to the survey.
  5. On the other hand, defining the age of onset for the clinical disorder of alcohol dependence relies on the age when an individual first experienced any of the symptoms for diagnosis of alcohol dependence.

Betweenthe earliest period covered, consumption increased due to the commercialisation of the brewing industry and rising wine imports facilitated by Dutch traders.

The years of the Industrial Revolution between then brought a marked decrease in alcohol consumption, followed by a renewed upturn towards the end of the 19th century and another decline continuing into the second half of the 20th. In their explanatory framework for this roller-coaster ride, the authors of the survey place less emphasis on issues of deprivation and escape drinking than on socio-political and cultural factors such as varying taxation burdens, shifting codes of behaviour, the relatively recent phenomenon of excess drinking by women and proportional increases in wealth for key sections of the population.

  • In California, about half of arrestees, male and female, reported that the reason for their arrest was tied to alcohol;
  • All three of these last characterizations of alcohol seem to be associated with dryness, at least in the sense of strong cultural efforts to control drinking;
  • The discovery of addiction;
  • Consider, for instance, an English traveler's description of French drinking in the early 17th century, long before the steep rise in French alcohol consumption in the 19th century;
  • Drunk on the Continent If we widen the perspective to the Continent, further peaks and troughs of historical imbibing reveal themselves.

Venturing even further back in time and yet more speculative groundit seems probable that the late Middle Ages circa to formed a previous peak of alcohol and meat consumption. Drunk on the Continent If we widen the perspective to the Continent, further peaks and troughs of historical imbibing reveal themselves. Typical estimates of per-capita intakes for 16th-century Central Europe cluster around 1 to 1.

This decreased — as in the case of England — to around 1 litre by the late 18th century, albeit with huge social, regional and situational variations. A recent analysis of the contested relationship between alcohol and violence came to equally intriguing conclusions: Turning to more indirect evidence, in German-speaking Europe during the 18th century a relatively sober point some public houses clocked up sales many present-day successors can only dream about: Inthe keeper of the Sun Inn at Herzogenbuchsee, a Swiss village on an important highway with three fairs, accounted for a massive 38, litres of wine retailed on the premises on average litres a day.

Yet far from stable and proportionate, local drinking landscapes could be very dynamic.

The author By the second quarter ofby comparison, UK pubs recorded 3, barrels circa , litres of annual on-trade beer sales. Dividing this by the roughly 48, outlets operating in yields a daily figure of just under 34 litres and, once again, by no means historically unprecedented levels.

  • Selden Bacon, "Alcohol and Complex Society", with discussion, pp;
  • Epidemiological knowledge can 1 lead to the development of early intervention and prevention practices, 2 evaluate the impact of interventions at the community and population levels, 3 identify populations at-risk for alcohol problems, and 4 contribute to changes in social policy.

All these calculations only re-emphasise the problems of approaching the issue of drink through statistics alone, especially in a wider historical context. Looking back over the centuries, we find no linear increase or decrease of alcohol consumption. Every so often societies tend to slip into moral panics about drinking excess, at times on rather questionable grounds.

Worth remembering perhaps the next time we see a tabloid headline about our ever-worsening drink problem.