Background: Heavy episodic drinking (HED) (consumption of five or more drinks on the same occasion) among adolescents is related to several problems and partaking in sport or physical activities has been suggested as an option to prevent or reduce alcohol consumption among this population. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between soccer practice and heavy episodic drinking among high school students from Brazil.
Methods: Data were obtained from a cross-sectional study among a representative sample of public and private high school students from all Brazilian state capitals (N=19,132). Only students aged from 14 to 18 who reported having taken part in soccer practice, other team sports or non-practicing sports in the last month were included. Characteristics of sport practice (frequency and motivation) and HED in the last month (type of drink; where and with whom they drank; frequency of HED) were also considered. Regression models were controlled for sociodemographic variables.
Results: For all groups studied most of the students reported drinking beer, with friends and at nightclubs or bars. Soccer practice was associated to HED when compared to non-practicing sports and to other team sports. Compared to other team sports, playing soccer for pleasure or profession, but not for keep fit or health reasons, were more associated to HED. Frequency of soccer practice from 1 to 5 days per month and 20 or more days per month, but not from 6 to 19 days per month, were also more associated to HED.
Conclusions: The relationship between soccer and HED appears to be particularly stronger than in other team sports among adolescents in Brazil. Induced sociability of team sports practice cannot be assumed as the main reason for HED among soccer players. Possibly these results reflect the importance of a strong cultural association between soccer and beer in Brazil and these findings should be integrated to future prevention or intervention programs.