Introduction Diet, lifestyle and disease patterns vary greatly from one part of China to another. Data on the prevalence and patterns of alcohol consumption in different parts of China are limited.
Methods Self-reported questionnaire data from the Kadoorie Biobank Study were used to describe the prevalence and patterns of alcohol consumption in 510 000 men and women aged 30–79 years, recruited during 2004–2008 from 10 geographically diverse urban and rural areas of China.
Results 76% of men and 35% of women were current alcohol drinkers, with 33% of men and 2% of women drinking at least weekly. In men, the prevalence of weekly drinking varied by sevenfold between areas (from 7% to 51%, age-adjusted), and was highest at age 40–49 years, among those with no formal education, and among regular smokers and tea-drinkers. Among weekly drinkers, the estimated median consumption was 244 g/week in men and 68 g/week in women. Most alcohol consumption involved strong spirits, although this varied somewhat by area and there was a trend towards increased beer consumption among younger people. In male drinkers, 37% (12% of all men) reported regular binge drinking (ie, >60 g alcohol in one session), and the prevalence was highest in younger men. Most drinkers (86%) usually drank with meals, and a fifth reported flushing/dizziness after drinking.
Conclusion The prevalence and pattern of drinking in China show strong regional and socio-demographic variation. The health-related effects of alcohol consumption among study participants are now being monitored.
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