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Revista Española de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 2173-9110Print version ISSN 1135-5727


GALAN, Iñaki; GONZALEZ, Mª José  and  VALENCIA-MARTIN, José L.. Alcohol drinking patterns in Spain: a country in transition. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica [online]. 2014, vol.88, n.4, pp.529-540. ISSN 2173-9110.

Background: Alcohol consumption in Mediterranean countries is in a transition period. The objective is to describe in the Spanish adult population the pattern of alcohol consumption by major sociodemographic variables. Methods: A cross-sectional study among 20,608 individuals aged ≥15 years who participated in the Spanish Health Interview Survey (ENS) 2011-2012. According to average intake, people were classified as heavy drinkers if they drank ≥40 g/day of alcohol (men) or ≥24 g/day (women). Binge drinking was defined as the consumption of ≥6 standard drinks (men) and ≥5 (women) at any drinking occasion (4-6 hours) in the last year. The beverage preference and the trend for 1987-2012 (ENS of these years) were estimated. The relationship of the distribution of drinking patterns with sociodemographic variables was analyzed using adjusted logistic regression models. Results: The prevalence of heavy drinkers was 1.3% (2% in men and 0.7% in women). In men, heavy drinking was more frequent among 45 to 64 year olds (odds ratio (OR)=2.92 compared to men of 15-29 years; CI 95%: 1.59-5.38) and those born in Spain (OR=3.45; CI 95%: 1.59-7.69). In women, the only differences observed were those regarding education level, with heavy drinking increasing as the level of education increases (p linear trend <0.001). The prevalence of binge drinking during the last year was 19.6% in men and 7.1% in women. In both genders, the risk of binge drinking decreased with age and increased with higher education level (p linear trend <0.001). The standardized prevalence of heavy drinkers has declined from 18.8% in 1987 to 1.3% in 2012. Conclusion: Alcohol consumption in Spain is consistent with the model for countries in transition, where binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive use of alcohol. A strong decline in heavy drinkers was observed and wine has been displaced by beer in beverage preference.

Keywords : Alcohol drinking; Wine; Beer; Spirits; Epidemiology; Binge drinking; Spain.

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