Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


The nearer the bar, the greater the chances of risky drinking

06 November 2012, 08:47

New York - Does living near a bar encourage people to overindulge, or do heavy drinkers move to neighborhoods with easy access to alcohol? A new study suggests it may be the former for some people.

Researchers in Finland found that of nearly 55,000 Finnish adults followed for seven years, those who moved closer to bars were somewhat more likely to increase their drinking.

When a person moved one kilometer (0.6 mile) closer to a bar, the odds of becoming a heavy drinker rose 17 percent. A "heavy drinker" meant more than 10 ounces a week for men and about seven ounces a week for women, of distilled alcohol.

The link doesn't prove that mere distance from a bar turns people into alcohol abusers, according to the researchers.

"Factors other than proximity are also likely to explain the observed association," lead researcher Jaana L. Halonen, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Kuopio, said in an email.

One possibility, she noted, is that drinkers choose to live near bars. But she and her colleagues also looked at a subset of people who didn't move - the bars came closer to them. And the findings were similar among those individuals, too, Halonen said.

The researchers also accounted for some other factors, like the neighborhood poverty level. (In Finland, Halonen said, lower-income people are more likely to drink heavily than wealthier people are.) And distance from a bar remained tied to the odds of becoming a heavy drinker.

The findings, reported in the journal Addiction, are based on surveys of 54,778 Finnish public employees who were followed over an average of seven years.

At the outset, there was a pattern of heavy drinking being more common when people lived close to bars, or restaurants or hotels with bars.

Among people who were an average of 0.12 kilometers (400 feet) from the nearest drinking hole, a little over nine percent were heavy drinkers. Of those 2.4 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) away, some 7.5 percent were heavy drinkers.

When the researchers looked at patterns over time, it turned out that people who moved closer to bars - or had bars move closer to them - tended to have higher odds of becoming a heavy drinker.

The increased risk was modest. But at the population level, Halonen noted, even a modest association between access to bars and heavy drinking becomes "notable."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a standard drink as a 1.5 ounce "shot" of 80-proof alcohol, five ounces of wine or eight ounces of beer - and considers heavy drinking to be an average of more than two drinks a day for men and one a day for women.

For any one person, of course, the risk of becoming a problem drinker depends on a whole range of factors, Halonen pointed out.

But, she added, it's possible that restricting bars' hours, or other alcohol retailers' operating hours, could limit locals' risky drinking.

Since the study was done in Finland, one question is how well the findings would apply to other countries. That's unclear, Halonen said, because drinking habits and "cultural norms" vary by country.

"For instance," she noted, "in the UK and Australia, heavy drinking is reported to be more common than in Finland, whereas in the USA it is less common."

"On the other hand," Halonen added, "it is unlikely that easy access to a bar would affect drinking only among Finnish employees." 


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...