Geographical variation in the prevalence of heavy drinking in young Swiss men

Eur J Public Health. 2016 Oct;26(5):850-855. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckv247. Epub 2016 Feb 6.


Background: Not much is known about how much geographical units matter for heavy alcohol consumption and how much of the geographical variations are explained by characteristics such as institutional alcohol policies and regional economic conditions. The study aim was to address these gaps considering three types of heavy alcohol consumption.

Methods: Analyses were based on data collected on 5879 men (age: 20.0 years, standard deviation: 1.2) years participating in the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors in Switzerland. Generalized linear mixed models were used to assess overall prevalence, geographical variations in prevalence across geographical units (institutional units, economic micro regions, linguistic regions, urban/rural status), and explanatory variables in three different types of heavy alcohol consumption (heavy weekend drinking, heavy workweek drinking, heavy volume drinking).

Results: The overall prevalence for heavy weekend drinking was 46.8%, 10.8% for heavy volume drinking and 3.6% for heavy workweek drinking. The extent and locations of geographical variation in prevalence rates were contingent upon the type of alcohol consumption. Institutional alcohol policies explained substantial geographical variations in heavy weekend drinking, but not in heavy workweek or heavy volume drinking. Regional economic conditions were not related to alcohol consumption.

Conclusions: Different types of heavy alcohol consumption are determined by different geographical units. Alcohol policies protectively impact the major drinking style of heavy weekend drinking, but not other low prevalence forms of heavy drinking. Research and public health efforts must take into account these differences between types of alcohol consumption.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Geography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Young Adult