Moving Closer to Bar may Increase Chances of Risky Drinking: Study
A new study suggests that easy accessibility to alcohol may be responsible for some people drinking too often. According to the study by researchers from Finland, having a bar close to one's house may encourage people to overindulge.
The study that involved the follow-up of 55,000 Finnish adults for a span of seven years, found that people who moved to localities with a bar close by, tended to start drinking more often.
Apparently, for someone moving every one kilometer closer to the bar, the probability of them becoming heavy drinkers increased by 17 percent.
The term "heavy drinker" was defined by more than 10 ounces of distilled alcohol a week for men and about seven ounces a week for women, a REUTERS report said.
The researchers insist that the study does not link distance from the bar to people turning into alcohol abusers.
"Factors other than proximity are also likely to explain the observed association," lead researcher Jaana L. Halonen, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Kuopio, said in an email.
Also, she noted there is a possibility that drinkers consciously make a choice to live close to bars. However, her team of researchers studied people who did not move closer to bars, but people in whose locality bars were located. Apparently, the study yielded a similar result in that case too, Halonen said.
The researchers also took factors such as income-levels of participants into consideration in their study, since in Finland, the poor people are more likely to be heavy drinkers than the wealthy ones.
Further statistical findings of the study revealed, of those who lived an average 0.12 kilometers (400 feet) from the nearest drinking hole, a little more than 9 percent were heavy drinkers.
Among those who lived 2.4 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) away, some 7.5 percent were heavy drinkers, the report said.
For anyone, the chances of becoming a problematic drinker depend on many factors and not the distance from the bar alone. However, Halonen said, a restriction on the bar hours or perhaps restricting the operating hours of other alcohol retailers could restrict locals from risky drinking.
The study was conducted in Finland, and hence the application of the findings on other countries still remain unclear, mainly because drinking habits and "cultural norms" vary by country, Halonen said.
"For instance, in the UK and Australia, heavy drinking is reported to be more common than in Finland, whereas in the USA it is less common. On the other hand," Halonen added, "it is unlikely that easy access to a bar would affect drinking only among Finnish employees."
The findings were reported in the journal Addiction.