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‘Cyber Millenials’ most prone to risky binge drinking

Washington, May 12 (ANI): An American study suggests that ‘Cyber Millenials’—a term used to describe tech-savvy singles and couples living in fashionable neighbourhoods on the urban fringe—are most likely to engage in high-risk drinking.

Howard B. Moss, the study’s corresponding author who is also the Associate Director for Clinical and Translational Research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), revealed that the research group identified cyber millenials after categorizing people by their behaviours, attitudes, opinions, or lifestyles in a widely used in social-marketing efforts called ‘Audience segmentation’.

“Marketing research provides a unique window on individuals as consumers that has rarely been used in alcohol-prevention efforts. We already know that a substantial proportion of the morbidity and mortality associated with alcohol use is due to heedless high-risk drinking. In this study, we utilized an established and widely used marketing research database and merged it with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to identify high-risk drinkers, their demographics, and consumer behaviors and media habits,” said Moss.

Vivian B. Faden, acting director of the Office of Science Policy and Communications at NIAAA, said: “This is a new approach, which is exactly why this paper is so interesting. Analyses such as this one may provide an important additional way to identify high-risk drinkers by understanding the ‘social’ groups in which they are most likely to be found. Understanding these groups better and more broadly in terms of their habits, likes and dislikes, and shopping, entertainment and other preferences can help inform prevention efforts.”

Moss and his colleagues performed a segmentation analysis of those individuals who self-reported consuming five or more drinks per drinking episode at least twice in the preceding 30 days.

“We identified the top 10 audience segments in the U.S. that engaged in twice-a-month, high-risk drinking. Five of these audience segments were made up of young adults, and five were middle-aged individuals. The young adult segment we called the ‘Cyber Millenials,’ with the highest rate of risky levels of alcohol drinking, represented well-educated, ethnically mixed, technologically sophisticated individuals who live in urban fringe areas on the West Coast and Middle Atlantic regions,” said Moss.

The researcher said that one of the surprising things about that group was that it was one of the most health-conscious segments of American society.

“They have a lower-than-average smoking rate, they go to the gym, they consume organic produce, yet they binge drink at a level that is clearly detrimental to their well-being,” Moss said.

Faden said what was not surprising was that that group was relatively young.

“Drinking and high-risk drinking are most prevalent among young people, and many Cyber Millennials may be continuing drinking patterns established in their late teens and early twenties. In addition, this is an affluent group whose members have the resources to pay for multiple drinks, in a bar or club for example,” she said.

“Clinicians tend to be more blasé with younger, healthier patients, and might not even ask them about their level of alcohol consumption or screen them for alcohol problems. Since half of our top 10 high-risk drinking segments are young adults, clinicians might want to ‘ratchet up’ their index of suspicion when these individuals present clinically. Asking about drinking behaviour, giving advice, or conducting a formal brief intervention might save lives in the short-term, and reduce the risk of later development of alcohol-related organ damage or alcohol dependence,” added Moss.

Faden said: “The average reader may be interested in figuring out which group they belong to. Knowing what the drinking habits of that group are may encourage them to reflect on their own drinking practices and recognize that they may be engaging in high-risk drinking.”

The researchers believe that their study’s results might prove very useful in designing health campaigns for different audiences.

“Readers need to recognize that a healthy lifestyle should include moderation in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Being young, sophisticated, smart, successful, affluent and physically active does not protect against the adverse effects of heedless and excessive alcohol consumption,” said Moss.

The findings of the study, to be published in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, are currently available at Early View. (ANI)

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