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WMJ study explores link between students’ proximity to alcohol and consumption

The proximity and/or the density of alcohol outlets is significantly related to the drinking behaviors of college students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to a study published in the current issue of WMJ.

The study explored self-reported drinking and binge drinking among 166 full-time students at UW-Madison. Seventy-six percent (126) were drinkers, and among drinkers, 63 percent (80) were binge drinkers. To understand the association between drinking and proximity to alcohol, the authors used a geographic information system.

On average, nondrinkers lived nearly a half-mile further from the nearest alcohol outlet than drinkers, and within defined distance parameters up to a half-mile. More than double the number of alcohol outlets were available to drinkers compared to nondrinkers.

The authors noted that while cause and effect cannot be implied, the associations observed in their study may have important considerations for those who are invested in preventing drinking and binge drinking on college campuses.

“The results presented here equally suggest that close proximity may promote consumption or that alcohol consumers choose to live close to the points of sale,” the authors wrote. “The former scenario identifies factors potentially amenable to prevention strategies at the policy level, and the latter scenario identifies a characteristic of a population at high risk of excessive drinking, which could lend itself to public health strategies to curb drinking.”

To read the full study, click here. The current issue of WMJ is available here. To view an August 19 Cap Times article referencing the WMJ study, click here.

Back to August 20, 2015 Medigram