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Addiction. 2001 Apr;96(4):641-9.

Public opinion on the health benefits of moderate drinking: results from a Canadian National Population Health Survey.

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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, London and Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To explore beliefs about the health benefits of drinking alcohol in the Canadian population.


Secondary analysis of data from a national population health survey.


Canadians age 12 or older (weighted n = 72375) in all provinces but Alberta excluding those living in remote regions, native reserves and armed forces bases.


Responses to questions concerning the definition of moderate drinking and the belief that moderate drinking can be good for health. Self-reports of age, gender, province of residence, quantity and frequency of drinking, health problems and indicators of alcohol dependence.


Fifty-seven per cent of respondents believed that moderate drinking has health benefits. Forty-seven per cent defined moderate drinking as drinking less than one drink a day and believed this to be good for health. Twelve per cent defined moderate drinking as one or more drinks a day and believed this is good for health. Belief in the health benefits of moderate drinking was more common among men, those age 45 or older, residents of Ontario and Quebec, more frequent drinkers and those with ischaemic heart disease. Those who believed in the health benefits of at least one drink a day were more often males, older persons and frequent, heavy drinkers.


Belief in the health benefits of moderate drinking is generally associated with a conservative definition of moderate drinking. However, some drinkers at risk for alcohol problems may be influenced to drink by the belief that this can have health benefits or use this belief as an excuse for drinking.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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