We investigated the relation between alcohol drinking and healthy ageing by means of a validated health status metric, using individual data from the Ageing Trajectories of Health: Longitudinal Opportunities and Synergies (ATHLOS) project. For the purposes of this study, the ATHLOS harmonised dataset, which includes information from individuals aged 65+ in 38 countries, was analysed (n = 135,440). Alcohol drinking was reflected by means of three harmonised variables: alcohol drinking frequency, current and past alcohol drinker. A set of 41 self-reported health items and measured tests were used to generate a specific health metric. In the harmonised dataset, the prevalence of current drinking was 47.5% while of past drinking was 26.5%. In the pooled sample, current alcohol drinking was positively associated with better health status among older adults ((b-coef (95% CI): 1.32(0.45 to 2.19)) and past alcohol drinking was inversely related (b-coef (95% CI): -0.83 (-1.51 to -0.16)) with health status. Often alcohol consumption appeared to be beneficial only for females in all super-regions except Africa, both age group categories (65-80 years old and 80+), both age group categories, as well as among all the financial status categories (all p < 0.05). Regional analysis pictured diverse patterns in the association for current and past alcohol drinkers. Our results report the need for specific alcohol intake recommendations among older adults that will help them maintain a better health status throughout the ageing process.
Keywords: ATHLOS; ageing; alcohol drinking; health status; older adults.