Canadians are among the heaviest drinkers in the world. At the same time, alcohol consumption is the world's third-largest risk factor for developing disease, including neuropsychiatric disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, intentional injuries, unintentional injuries, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Emmanuel Guindon has been awarded a $100,000 one-year Catalyst Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to research effective ways to curb alcohol use. He leads a study entitled "The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of population-level policies to reduce alcohol use: a systematic review," which also involves Michelle Halligan, the Principal Knowledge User and Director of Prevention at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer; co-applicants Michael Wilson and CHEPA director Jean- Éric Tarride, and collaborator Evan Blecher of the World Bank.
In addition to its long-term consequences in adults, binge drinking by youths (also called heavy episodic drinking (HED), is associated with long-term consequences such as cognitive, structural and functional brain changes and liver disease.
Among Canadians, the most recent cross-country data indicate that Canadians 15 years and older consumed 10 litres of alcohol per capita, as compared to the global average of 6 litres per capita. In addition, almost one fifth of Canadians over the age of 12 were classified as heavy drinkers in 2018 and 2019. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, alcohol use has dramatically increased among some drinkers, highlighting alcohol consumption as a chief area of concern for population health.
Given the clear risks associated with alcohol use and the levels of alcohol consumption in Canada, federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments have an important role in developing and implementing evidence-informed policies to reduce the consumption of alcohol. These policies may include decreasing access and availability of alcohol (e.g., via taxation, minimum pricing, outlet density, minimum age for sale, hours of sale), and regulating marketing and advertising of alcohol (e.g., plain packaging and volume of advertising).
The goal of this study is to systematically review and synthesize evidence about the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of population-level policies to reduce alcohol use. The researchers will draw upon literature from several disciplines – health economics, health policy, political science, psychology – to
present comprehensive findings.