Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
A preliminary study at a Baltimore hospital found that drinkers of hard liquors and high-alcohol beers like Steel Reserve were more prevalent in the emergency room than drinkers of regular beers.
“Recent studies reveal that nearly a third of injury visits to Level I trauma centers were alcohol-related and frequently a result of heavy drinking,” said lead study author David Jernigan, a director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at Johns Hopkins University.
“Understanding the relationship between alcohol brands and their connection to injury may help guide policy makers in considering taxation and physical availability of different types of alcohol given the harms associated with them.”
The study, published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, was the first to look at how alcohol related to serious injury according to brand, researchers said.
The team collected their information at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Emergency Department in East Baltimore on weekend nights between April 2010 and June 2011. Of the more than 100 respondents who said they had been drinking alcohol before their injury, 69 percent were male and 69 percent were African American, which reflected the demographics of the hospital’s surrounding neighborhood.
Participants also told researchers about their alcohol consumption by brand. After comparing their results to market data from research company Impact Databank, the researchers found that the proportion of distilled spirits consumed by participants was higher than the market share for distilled spirits. Vodka, gin and cognac were more prevalent in the emergency room than their national market share. The same was true for ‘ready-to-drink’ beverages. Female participants were more likely to report consuming higher amounts of these pre-packaged cocktails.
While hard liquor was over-represented in the ER sample, beer was underrepresented compared to the national market share for the popular beverage. However, male participants were more likely to report consuming large quantities of beer or malt liquors. Almost half of participants said they drank Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and King Cobra before their injury. These four beverages make up only 2.4 percent of beer consumption in the United States.
The researchers noted that these are only preliminary findings from a small sample set in an urban hospital. They said they plan to pursue this research in a larger sample across emergency rooms in multiple cities and hospitals.
They also suggested policy implications that could include requirements for clear labeling of alcohol content on certain beverage containers, limits on availability and graduated taxation of alcohol based on alcohol content to cut consumption of higher-alcohol products.
One type of drink tracked in the study, ready-to-drink beverages, is rapidly growing in popularity. According to data released last year by researcher Technomic’s Adult Beverage Resource Group, Skinny Girl bottled cocktails are the fastest growing spirits brand in the US. Growing almost 390 percent from 2010 to 2011, the company was owned by reality television star Bethany Frankel until 2011 when she sold it to Beam Global for a reported $120 million. The company released four new products earlier this year: Moscato, White Cherry Vodka, Mojito and Grapefruit Margarita.