Better psychological functioning and higher social status may largely explain the apparent health benefits of wine: a study of wine and beer drinking in young Danish adults

Arch Intern Med. 2001 Aug;161(15):1844-8. doi: 10.1001/archinte.161.15.1844.


Background: Findings from a recent series of Danish studies suggest that moderate wine drinkers are healthier than those who drink other alcoholic beverages or those who abstain.

Objective: To identify possible explanatory factors associated with the health benefits of wine consumption through the examination of a wide spectrum of social, cognitive, and personality characteristics related to both beverage choice and health in young Danish adults.

Subjects and methods: Descriptive cross-sectional study of characteristics associated with beverage choice in a sample of 363 men and 330 women between the ages of 29 and 34 years, selected from the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort on the basis of perinatal records.

Main outcome measures: Socioeconomic status, education, IQ, personality, psychiatric symptoms, and health-related behaviors, including alcohol consumption, were analyzed. The outcome variables were subjected to linear and logistic regression analyses with 2 factors (beer and wine), each with 2 levels (drinking or not drinking a certain beverage type).

Results: Wine drinking was significantly associated with higher IQ, higher parental educational level, and higher socioeconomic status. Beer drinking was significantly associated with lower scores on the same variables. On scales concerning personality, psychiatric symptoms, and health-related behaviors, wine drinking was associated with optimal functioning and beer drinking with suboptimal functioning.

Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that wine drinking is a general indicator of optimal social, cognitive, and personality development in Denmark. Similar social, cognitive, and personality factors have also been associated with better health in many populations. Consequently, the association between drinking habits and social and psychological characteristics, in large part, may explain the apparent health benefits of wine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Cognition*
  • Denmark
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Personality*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Wine*