South African Medical Journal

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Self-reported alcohol use and binge drinking in South Africa: Evidence from the National Income Dynamics Study, 2014 - 2015

N.G. Vellios, C.P. van Walbeek


Background. Although the South African (SA) government has implemented alcohol control measures, alcohol consumption remains high.
Objectives. To quantify the prevalence of self-reported current drinking and binge drinking in SA, and to determine important covariates.
Methods. We used the 2014 - 2015 National Income Dynamics Study, a nationally representative dataset of just over 20 000 individuals aged ≥15 years. Multiple regression logit analyses were performed separately by gender for self-reported current drinkers (any amount), selfreported bingers as a proportion of drinkers, and self-reported bingers as a proportion of the total population. An individual was defined as a binge drinker if he/she reported consumption of ≥5 standard drinks on an average drinking day.
Results. Current alcohol use (any amount) in 2014 - 2015 was reported by 33.1% of the population (47.7% males, 20.2% females). Of drinkers, 43.0% reported binge drinking (48.2% males, 32.4% females). The prevalence of self-reported binge drinking as a percentage of the total population was 14.1% (22.8% males, 6.4% females). Although black African males and females were less likely than white males and females to report drinking any amount, they were more likely to report binge drinking. Coloured (mixed race) females were more likely than black African females to report drinking any amount. Males and  females who professed a religious affiliation were less likely than those who did not to report drinking any alcohol. The prevalence of self-reported binge drinking was highest among males and females aged 25 - 34 years. Smoking cigarettes substantially increased the likelihood of drinking any amount and of binge drinking for both genders.
Conclusion. In SA, one in three individuals reported drinking alcohol, while one in seven reported binge drinking on an average day on which alcohol was consumed. Strong, evidence-based policies are needed to reduce the detrimental effects of alcohol use.

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