Here’s how the density of a bar or restaurant determines a person’s alcohol intake.


There was a time when alcohol consumption was considered a morally irresponsible behavior. But nowadays, it has become as common as stopping for a cup of coffee. Previous research has shown that people drink more frequently and consume more alcohol when there are more bars and restaurants in the neighborhood where they live. But a recent study adds another angle.

This study, focusing on parents of young children, suggests that it is not just the people who live where they live – it is also important where they spend their time. The results of the study were published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The findings show that alcohol use is related to how many bars and restaurants parents have near where they shop, where they work and where their children go to school.

“What we found suggests that parents can choose where they shop based on opportunities to engage in other activities, including drinking. They may even suggest a drink when they go out shopping or by the convenience of a nearby bar and restaurant, “said Bridget Freithaler, co-author of the study and professor of social work at The Ohio State University.

“If you have a hard day at work, you can stop for a drink at a nearby bar before heading home. If you’re out shopping with your kids, you can stop for dinner at a chain restaurant serving alcohol.”

Frestler conducted the study with Uwe Werninkink, a doctoral student in social work at Ohio State. The study involved 1,599 people in 30 cities in California who took part in a telephone or web-based survey. All participants were parents or guardians with a child at least 10 years of age or older who lived with them for at least half the time.

Participants answered questions that led researchers to calculate how often they drank alcohol (how many days in a year) and the total amount of alcohol consumed in a year. In 2015, data was collected before Covid-19. All participants listed where they lived, grocery stores where they mostly shopped, other stores where they frequently shopped (such as large boxes or drugstores), the child’s school or preschool, and the parents’ place of employment.

Researchers then calculated the density of alcohol outlets – bars and restaurants where alcohol was used on site – near the sites where people spent time. (Researchers have identified these sites as “destination nodes.”

The findings confirm other studies suggesting that parents living in areas with high bars and restaurants drank more days and drank more alcohol during the past year than those living in areas with such fewer outlets. Parents who visited the denser nodes of bars and restaurants serving alcohol did not drink more often than others, but they reported drinking more alcohol than others during the year. “We can’t say how they spread their drink throughout the year, but it’s related to the fact that parents who frequent these areas with bars and restaurants actually consume more alcohol,” Frestler said.

Frestler said the data did not show whether the children had children with them when they drank. “But it’s a matter of attention,” she said. Depending on where the parents report going, these are places where they can do many things at once and possibly have their children with them. They can go shopping and then go to a chain restaurant that serves alcohol, but is still suitable for bringing children, unlike bars or pubs. It gives parents a chance to drink. “

The issue is not whether parents can occasionally drink beer or wine in a restaurant with their children, Frestler said. But studies, including this one, show that people drink more when there are more places nearby. “Are there additional risks to how people groom their children, such as drinking and driving? That’s what we should be concerned about,” she said.

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