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US study challenges stereotype on North American drinking

A study used national survey data to examine the veracity of the longstanding belief that, compared to whites, Native Americans (NA) have elevated alcohol consumption.

The primary data source was the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2009 to 2013, with 171,858 whites and 4,201 Native Americans. Analyses were conducted to assess differences in the odds of NA and whites being alcohol abstinent, light/ moderate drinkers (no binge/heavy consumption), binge drinkers (5+ drinks on an occasion 1–4 days), or heavy drinkers (5+ drinks on an occasion 5+ days) in the past month. Complementary alcohol abstinence, light/moderate drinking and excessive drinking analyses were conducted using Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data from 2011 to 2013: whites (n = 1,130,658) and NA (n = 21,589).

In the NSDUH analyses, the majority of NA, 59.9% (95% CI: 56.7–63.1), abstained, whereas a minority of whites, 43.1% (CI: 42.6–43.6), abstained—adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 0.64 (CI: 0.56–0.73). Approximately 14.5% (CI: 12.0–17.4) of NA were light/ moderate-only drinkers, versus 32.7% (CI: 32.2–33.2) of whites (AOR: 1.90; CI: 1.51–2.39). NA and white binge drinking estimates were similar—17.3% (CI: 15.0-19.8) and 16.7% (CI: 16.4–17.0), respectively (AOR: 1.00; CI: 0.83–1.20). The two populations’ heavy drinking estimates were also similar—8.3% (CI: 6.7– 10.2) and 7.5% (CI: 7.3–7.7), respectively (AOR: 1.06; CI: 0.85–1.32). The authors found that results from the BRFSS analyses generally corroborated those from NSDUH.

In contrast to the ‘Native American elevated alcohol consumption’ belief, Native Americans compared to whites had lower or comparable rates across the range of alcohol measures examined, the study found. Source: Alcohol use among Native Americans compared to whites: Examining the veracity of the ‘Native American elevated alcohol consumption’ belief. James K. Cunningham, Teshia A. Solomon, Myra L. Muramoto. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Dec 30.

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