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Socioeconomic patterning of excess alcohol consumption and binge drinking: a cross-sectional study of multilevel associations with neighbourhood deprivation
  1. David L Fone1,
  2. Daniel M Farewell1,
  3. James White2,
  4. Ronan A Lyons3,
  5. Frank D Dunstan1
  1. 1Institute of Primary Care & Public Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Public Health Interventions, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  3. 3College of Medicine, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor David L Fone; foned{at}


Objectives The influence of neighbourhood deprivation on the risk of harmful alcohol consumption, measured by the separate categories of excess consumption and binge drinking, has not been studied. The study objective was to investigate the effect of neighbourhood deprivation with age, gender and socioeconomic status (SES) on (1) excess alcohol consumption and (2) binge drinking, in a representative population survey.

Design Cross-sectional study: multilevel analysis.

Setting Wales, UK, adult population ∼2.2 million.

Participants 58 282 respondents aged 18 years and over to four successive annual Welsh Health Surveys (2003/2004–2007), nested within 32 692 households, 1839 census lower super output areas and the 22 unitary authority areas in Wales.

Primary outcome measure Maximal daily alcohol consumption during the past week was categorised using the UK Department of Health definition of ‘none/never drinks’, ‘within guidelines’, ‘excess consumption but less than binge’ and ‘binge’. The data were analysed using continuation ratio ordinal multilevel models with multiple imputation for missing covariates.

Results Respondents in the most deprived neighbourhoods were more likely to binge drink than in the least deprived (adjusted estimates: 17.5% vs 10.6%; difference=6.9%, 95% CI 6.0 to 7.8), but were less likely to report excess consumption (17.6% vs 21.3%; difference=3.7%, 95% CI 2.6 to 4.8). The effect of deprivation varied significantly with age and gender, but not with SES. Younger men in deprived neighbourhoods were most likely to binge drink. Men aged 35–64 showed the steepest increase in binge drinking in deprived neighbourhoods, but men aged 18–24 showed a smaller increase with deprivation.

Conclusions This large-scale population study is the first to show that neighbourhood deprivation acts differentially on the risk of binge drinking between men and women at different age groups. Understanding the socioeconomic patterns of harmful alcohol consumption is important for public health policy development.


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