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Friday, March 9, 2012

Associations between self-reported illness and non-drinking in young adults

This study investigated associations between self-reported illness, social factors and health behaviours and non-drinking among young people aged 18 to 34 years.

Logistic regression analysis of cross-sectional national survey data, collected from The Health Survey for England 2006 and 2008. Data was collected through face to face interviews and is self-reported.

2,826 male and 3,618 females aged 18 to 34 years drawn from a nationally representative multi-stage stratified probability sampling design across England.

Non-drinkers were based on those who reported no to drinking alcohol nowadays. Exposure measures included self-reports of having a limiting longstanding illness, longstanding illness, or self-reported poor health. We adjusted for ethnicity, income, education, general physical activity and other factors.

Having a limiting longstanding illness during early adulthood increased the odds of being a non-drinker 1.74 times for men (p<0.01), and 1.45 times for women (p<0.01). In both men and women belonging to the lowest income quintile or having no qualifications was associated with increased odds of being a non-drinker (p<0.001) indicating that the social gradient in non-drinking begins at an early age. Men and women aged 18 to 34 years with the lowest activity levels were also more likely to be non-drinkers (p<0.01).

Young adults who have a limiting longstanding illness are more likely not to drink alcohol even after adjusting for a range of social and demographic measures. Studies on the putative health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption later in life need to take account of early life history.

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