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Alcohol consumption in the Baltic Republics


STUDY OBJECTIVES Premature mortality associated with alcohol intake is of particular concern in several countries of the former Soviet Union. This study explored self reported alcohol consumption (beer, wine, spirits) and its determinants in the Baltic Republics.

DESIGN Cross sectional surveys conducted in 1997.

SETTINGS Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

PARTICIPANTS Representative samples of adults age 19–64 (Estonia n=2010; Latvia n=2258; Lithuania n=2139).

METHODS Between country differences in the frequency of alcohol intake were estimated. The odds of consuming alcohol weekly according to socioeconomic characteristics (age, ethnicity, rural/urban area, education, income) were calculated using multiple logistic regression analyses, adjusting for all variables simultaneously.

MAIN RESULTS The proportion of respondents consuming alcohol weekly varied by country (p<0.001) (men: Estonia=61% Latvia=41% Lithuania=55%; women: Estonia=26% Latvia=8% Lithuania=14%). Within each country, this proportion decreased with age in both sexes (p<0.001), and increased with income in women (p<0.01). In Estonia, the odds of drinking alcohol weekly was significantly lower in respondents of Russian than of Estonian ethnicity (odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI): men=0.51 (0.36, 0.71); women=0.57 (0.39, 0.81)). In Lithuania, the odds was higher in highly educated men than in those with a low education level (OR=1.48 (1.01, 2.17)). Daily alcohol intake was higher in Estonia than in the other countries, as was the percentage of respondents drinking heavily (equivalent to 80 g/day).

CONCLUSIONS Approximately half the men and one in six women in the Baltic States reported consuming alcohol at least weekly. Age and income were the strongest and most consistent correlates of the likelihood of consuming alcohol weekly. Ethnic differences were observed only in Estonia.

  • alcohol
  • Baltic states
  • Russia

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  • Funding: the surveys were funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Luxembourg and WHO and the work of ECOHOST is supported by the UK Department for International Development. However neither DfID, the Government of Luxembourg nor WHO can accept any responsibility for any information provided or views expressed.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.