New Study suggests a ‘public health crisis’
Adult drinking in the U.S. has become a “public health crisis” in the past decade, with the steepest rise
among those 65 and over, according to a recent federal study.
The increase in alcohol use, in high-risk drinking behavior, and in alcohol abuse and dependence for
those 65-plus was at least double that of the general population, said the study, published in JAMA
Psychiatry and sponsored in part by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It
compared drinking levels in 2001-2002 with those in 2012-2013.
The increases were “substantial and unprecedented relative to earlier surveys,” the JAMA Psychiatry
article said. One of the most troubling findings was a 107 percent increase in the number of adults 65
and over with “alcohol use disorder,” which as defined by the NIAAA is often characterized by
compulsive alcohol use and a negative emotional state when not using alcohol. “Even as an expert in
the field, it shocked me,” said Brenda Iliff, executive director of Hazelden of Florida, an alcohol and drug
The study didn’t look at causes of the increase. But experts cited the aging of boomers as one possible
factor. “Baby boomers had higher levels of drinking and drug use. They’re bringing this along,” said
NIAAA Director George F Koob. Another possible factor: recent economic stresses on older Americans.
“The 2008 recession had a toll on the most vulnerable,” said Bridget Grant, the lead author of the study.
Richard Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, challenged
the findings, saying changes in methods mean “you can’t really compare the results.” But Koob stood by
the study, saying the results for older Americans were consistent with other research.
(As written in the AARP Bulletin of October 2017)
Make Winter Bearable
(Learn seasonal survival from the masters of hibernation)
Embrace hyperphagia, or overeating. Instead of feasting on holiday treats, act like a bear and grab
pawfuls of nuts and berries. They’ll tune up your brain and immune system.
Lose weight fast-er. Bears’ winterlong fasting helps them lose about 20 percent of their pudge. Your
variation: intermittent fasting. Eat only during an eight-hour window each day.
Shake it off. Dave Garshelis, a bear expert with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, notes
that hibernating bears do a lot of shivering, which preserves muscle tone. Similarly, human fidgeting
can burn 350 calories a day. And a Japanese study showed that setting the thermostat at 62 degrees
impacts your metabolism and could cause significant fat loss in six weeks. Hey, Boo Boo, spring is just
around the corner!
(written by Peter Moore for AARP Magazine)