Although Italy is renowned for its wine production, a new study suggests that Italians are in fact drinking considerably less alcohol than they did a decade ago.
Researchers found that alcohol consumption decreased by about twenty-three percent, from an average of almost six drinks (mostly wine) each week in 2006 to about four drinks per week in 2014.
The drop occurred mainly because of a thirty-one percent decrease in wine consumption over the study period, since the consumption of other alcoholic beverages like spirits or beer remained unchanged.
Silvano Gallus, lead author of the study and an epidemiologist at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy, said that nowadays Italy has one of the lowest alcohol drinking levels in the world.
In the study – published November 4 in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism – the researchers looked at data collected from previous interviews that were conducted throughout Italy from 2006 to 2014. Approximately 21,500 Italians ages 15 and older were interviewed during the eight-year period.
Italy’s plunging drinking levels may have occurred due to several factors. For instance, in the past people used to have wine in moderate amounts both at lunch and dinner. However, these days Italians tend to only consume wine at dinner, according to Gallus.
Also, Italians seem to be more aware of the potential negative health effects that alcohol may have, which led to the implementation of new national policies.
The new laws banned alcohol advertising to minors, regulated the sale of alcohol, and restricted the maximum level of legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in drivers to only 0.05 percent, Gallus stated. In 2001 the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration level was 0.08.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in the latest version of the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health that Italy has very low rates of alcoholism compared with the United States and other countries in Europe.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2010 the prevalence of alcoholism in Italians ages 15 and older was 1 percent, compared with 7.4 percent in the United States, and 7.5 percent in some other European countries.
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