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UCLA study shows that people drink less alcohol as they age

A new UCLA study shows that people drink less alcohol as they age--but drinking among those who were born in earlier years showed a faster decline than among people born more recently.

For instance, people born in 1925 decreased their drinking an average of 11 percent for each decade of aging while those born in 1935 reduced their drinking about 9 percent each decade.

The study, "Longitudinal Patterns and Predictors of Alcohol Consumption in the United States," is published in the March 2005 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

It demonstrates a pattern that health experts had suspected but never proven, Dr. Alison Moore, associate professor of medicine in the geriatrics division of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study's lead researcher, said.

"We confirmed that with increasing age, people do drink less," she said. "The kicker is that, over time, the earlier group had a faster decline. People who were born more recently reduce their drinking less as compared with people who were born earlier."

Researchers used data from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 1971-75 (NHANES I) and from follow-ups conducted between 1982 and 1992. NHANES I survey subjects comprised a sample of more than 20,000 non-institutionalized, non-military United States citizens up to age 74. Subjects in the follow-up were in the 25 to 74-year age range.

The study asked the following questions:

  • How does drinking behavior (drinking vs. abstention) change over time?
  • What are the differences in demographic characteristics among people with different longitudinal drinking patterns?
  • How do age, period, and cohort influence alcohol consumption over time?
  • What demographic factors predict level of alcohol consumption and rate of change in alcohol consumption with increasing age?

The researchers found that in general, white, married males with better ed
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22-Feb-2005


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