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Study Highlights Jobs Associated with Higher Rates of Drinking

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Certain types of jobs are associated with higher levels of drinking, a new study suggests.

Skilled workers in the manufacturing and construction industries tend to consume more alcohol, according to the research, which looked at people aged 40 to 69-years-old.

Meanwhile, those employed in other occupations such as teaching and clergy are less likely to drink heavily.

Researchers say the findings could be used by policy-makers to target public health or work-based interventions aimed at reducing heavy drinking.

According to the study, pub owners and managers of licensed premises are almost three times more likely to be heavy drinkers, while cleaners and plasterers were twice as likely.

Clergy, physicists, geologists, meteorologists, and medical practitioners were least likely to be heavy drinkers, the research showed.

A team of University of Liverpool researchers compared the chances of being a heavy drinker with various different occupations.

"We found robust evidence that publicans and managers of licensed premises were more likely to be heavy drinkers," the authors wrote.

Dr. Andrew Thompson, the corresponding author from the University of Liverpool, said: "Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of physical and mental harm and by understanding which occupations are associated with heavy drinking, we can better target resources and interventions.

"Our research provides insight for policymakers and employers regarding which sectors may have the highest rates of heavy alcohol consumption."

The authors analyzed data on 100,817 adults from across the UK who were recruited to the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010.

Participants reported their weekly or monthly alcohol intake and occupation, and 17,907 were categorized as heavy drinkers.

Women were classed as heavy drinkers if they consumed more than 35 units within a week – the equivalent of around three and a half bottles of wine or more than 17 pints of low strength beer.

Men were classed as heavy drinkers if they consumed more than 50 units - the equivalent of five bottles of wine or 25 pints of low strength beer.

Associations between occupation and heavy drinking differed in men and women, the study published in BMC Public Health found.

For men, the jobs that were most likely to be associated with heavy drinking were skilled trade occupations, while jobs classified as managers and senior officials were most likely to be associated with heavy drinking for women.

The occupations associated with the lowest rates of heavy drinking for men were clergy, medical practitioners, and town planners, compared with school secretaries, biological scientists, biochemists, and physiotherapists for women.

Dr. Thompson added: "The observed differences for men and women in associations between occupations and heavy drinking could indicate how work environments, along with gender and other complex factors, can influence relationships with alcohol.

"Workplace-based interventions aiming to address alcohol consumption in occupations where heavy drinking is prevalent could benefit both individuals and the wider economy by improving employee wellbeing and by indirectly increasing productivity."

The researchers caution that due to the cross-sectional nature of the study, it was not possible to establish a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and occupation.

Additionally, as the data was collected between 2006 and 2010, it is unknown whether changes in drinking behaviors have occurred since then.

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Schedule2 Oct 2023