It takes more than 25 litres of water to produce one litre of beer. So, the global alcohol industry, production, distribution, retail leave a huge climate footprint…The alcohol industry perpetuates myths about its economic contribution to countries as well as myths about the effects of alcohol and alcohol policies. The costs for alcohol harm are much greater than the economic contribution of the alcohol industry. And the conduct of the industry, targeting children and young people with their marketing and targeting developing countries with heavy lobbying is highly problematic, knowing alcohol plays a role in creating poverty and hindering development…To free people around the world from poverty, and to achieve the MDGs it is fundamental to address the role alcohol plays in creating and exacerbating poverty and hindering development. The equation is simple and tells decision-makers what to do: Less alcohol, means less poverty and more sustainable development.”
Published 15 September 2017 By Tim Newman
Researchers uncover changes in brain activity associated with binge drinking. Earlier studies showed that alcoholic people have measurable changes in their resting brain activity. And now, for the first time, researchers find similar changes in the brains of non-alcoholic students who binge drink.
Non-bingers' and bingers' brains compared
When the neural activity of the two groups was compared, there were significant differences. More specifically, there was a measurable increase in beta and theta oscillations in the right temporal lobe - particularly the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri - and the occipital cortex.
The parahippocampal gyrus is believed to play a part in coding and retrieving memories. The fusiform gyrus does not have a well-defined role to date but seems to be involved in recognition. The occipital cortex deals with processing visual information.
Interestingly, the increased activity in these areas mirrors those found in the brains of chronic alcoholics.
The researchers believe that the alterations in brain activity might be early signs of alcohol-induced brain damage. Changes in these regions may indicate a reduction in their ability to respond to external stimuli, which may hamper information processing.
Younger brains are still developing, and the researchers believe that this might make them more vulnerable to alcohol damage.
"These features might be down to the particularly harmful effects of alcohol on young brains that are still in development, perhaps by delaying neuromaturational processes." Eduardo López-Caneda
Just over 40% of teens reported having had a few sips of alcohol by the age of 15, but only 16% had consumed a full serve. Of those who had tried alcohol, 28% of boys and 15% of girls had done so before the age of 13.
This doesn’t mean that young teenagers who have tried alcohol are necessarily drinking to excess, just that they are sampling alcohol at a relatively young age. For most 14- and 15-year-olds, drinking alcohol was not a regular practice — only 7% had consumed an alcoholic drink in the month before their interview.
Parents’ regular, short-term, risky drinking was shown to be a strong factor in influencing their teenage children to try alcohol. Around 11% of mothers and 30% of fathers reported having at least five drinks on a single occasion at least twice a month.
Most parents did not drink daily; of those who did, more men than women exceeded guidelines for long-term risk.
Percentage of parents (of 12–to-13-year-olds) who drink at risky levels.
Friends also had a strong influence. Almost 40% of those who had at least one friend who drank alcohol had tried alcohol themselves, compared to only 5% of those who had no friends who drank.
Teens were also more likely to have tried alcohol if they were the only child, in the later stages of puberty, or in a single-parent household. But even after accounting for all these factors, there was still a significant association between parents’ drinking habits and adolescents’ alcohol use. Those whose parents drank at a risky level were most likely to have tried alcohol
Sep 9, 2017
The alcohol industry uses distortion, denial and distraction to mislead people about the risks of developing cancer from drinking alcoholic beverages, often employing similar tactics used by the tobacco industry to mislead smokers, according to a new study…"The weight of scientific evidence is clear - drinking alcohol increases the risk of some of the most common forms of cancer," said Mark Petticrew, a professor of public Health at the LSHTM who co-led the study.
"It has been argued that greater public awareness, particularly of the risk of breast cancer, poses a significant threat to the alcohol industry. Our analysis suggests that the major global alcohol producers may attempt to mitigate this by disseminating misleading information."
The study identified three main industry strategies: Denying any link with cancer, or selective omission of the relationship; distortion by mentioning some risk of cancer, but misrepresenting or obfuscating its size; and distraction by seeking to draw focus away from the risks of alcohol and towards other cancer risks.
Easy access to cheap alcohol is linked to a range of related harms including violence, but planning policies and liquor industry regulations aren't built to address the issue. Across the state, local planning officers are working towards change.
The complex causes behind family violence are under scrutiny, now more than ever as recommendations from the recent Royal Commission into Family Violence start to feed into new reforms. Among them is the question of how easy access to cheap alcohol relates to levels of local violence.
In particular, attention is focussed on the rapid rise of chain-store liquor outlets: an increase in the area of 50 per cent over the past 15 years, outstripping population growth. Victorian research conducted in 2011 found that a 10 per cent increase in off-licence liquor outlets can be associated with a 3.3 per cent increase in domestic violence. And a 2014 report from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education cited chain-store alcohol outlets as contributing "most significantly to trauma risk, with each additional chain outlet associated with a 35.3 per cent increase in intentional injuries [such as assaults] and a 22 per cent increase in unintentional injuries [such as falls]".
A 10 per cent increase in off-licence liquor outlets is associated with a 3.3 per cent increase in domestic violence.
Planning officers' limited powers
Maya Rivis, principal program officer alcohol and tobacco at VicHealth, says: "The social harm that comes from alcohol needs to be considered both at the planning and liquor licensing stages, but currently it is not given enough weight in the decision-making process."
And that's because social impacts are not part of the criteria on which proposals for new off-license liquor outlets are judged. The regulatory system that currently oversees these decisions simply is not built that way.
Researchers at LaTrobe University are currently investigating the use of the planning system to reduce alcohol-related harm. "Planning law is often about the direct impacts on the land around the premises, but with packaged alcohol the effect could be happening kilometres away," concedes research officer Claire Wilkinson.
Planning law is often about the direct impacts on the land around the premises, but with packaged alcohol the effect could be happening kilometres away.