Americans are drinking less alcohol, particularly beer, according to a study published in the August edition of The American Journal of Medicine.
Researchers examined 50 years of data and found several changes in alcohol intake but no change in alcohol-related disorders and illnesses.
Among the findings were:
— Americans are drinking significantly less beer and more wine, while hard liquor use has remained fairly constant.
— The number of people describing themselves as non-drinkers has increased.
— People born later in the 20th century drink more moderately than people born in the early part of the century.
— Alcohol consumption goes down as people age.
"The findings in this study may be considered encouraging in many ways: The average amount of alcohol has decreased in more recently born cohorts, the percentage of the population exhibiting 'moderate' alcohol intake has been increasing steadily, and the percentage reporting 'heavy' drinking has decreased over time," lead investigator Yuqing Zhang, of Boston University School of Medicine, and his team of researchers wrote in their study.
For the study, researchers combed through 8,000 records of the Framingham Heart Study, the longest population-based study of American adults, to measure alcohol consumption over 50 years.
The Framingham study recruited subjects born between 1900 and 1959. Participants and their children, many of whom were born later in the 20th century, were interviewed every four years from 1948 to 2003.
Researchers concluded that Americans are moving in a healthier direction when it comes to alcohol. Still, the team found that even as use declines, the proportion of people who suffer alcohol-related disorders such as alcoholic cardiomyopathy or alcoholic cirrhosis remained nearly constant across all age groups.
Because of this, Zhang and his fellow researchers said continuing efforts at preventing alcohol-related illnesses is warranted.