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Pac Health Dialog. 2009 Feb;15(1):47-54.

'From Kava to Lager'--alcohol consumption and drinking patterns for older adults of Pacific ethnic groups, and Europeans in the Diabetes Heart and Health Study (DHAHS) 2002-2003, Auckland New Zealand.

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School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Aucklandf.



This paper describes and compares alcohol consumption and drinking patterns for Pacific ethnic groups (Samoan, Tongan, Niue, Cook Islands) and European New Zealanders by gender participating in the 2002-03 Diabetes Heart and Health Study (DHAHS).


The DHAHS was a cross-sectional population based study of people age 35-74 years carried out in Auckland between 2002-03. A total of 1011 Pacific people comprising of 484 Samoan, 252 Tongan, 109 Niuean, 116 Cook Islanders and 47 'Other Pacific' (mainly Fijian) and 1745 European participants took part in the survey Participants answered a self-administered questionnaire to assess whether they consumed alcohol, their drinking patterns and consumption levels and reasons for stopping drinking.


Approximately half (51.3%) of all Pacific people did not currently drink compared to 6.2% of the European population. Of 'non-drinkers'--never Drinking'was significantly more common in Pacific (40%) compared to Europeans (13%) p < 0.0001. Ex-drinkers comprised 6.3% of the 'ever-drank' population for European compared to 27.6% for Pacific. The majority of Pacific men and women drinkers (>60%) consumed alcohol 'weekly' or 'less than weekly'. In contrast the majority of European men and women drinkers (>60%) consumed alcohol '2-3 days per week' or 'daily'. European men were significantly more likely to drink wine and spirits, and European women were significantly more likely to drink wine than their Pacific counterparts. Pacific drinkers consumed an average of 6.9 drinks on a typical occasion and 82 mls of pure alcohol per week, compared to 3.6 drinks and 126 mls per week for Europeans.


Middle-aged and older Pacific adults are less likely to consume alcohol than Europeans however those who drink consume more on a typical occasion but drink less regularly resulting in lower weekly consumption of pure alcohol. Drinking patterns in these Pacific adults tend to show substantial diversity by age (older are less likely to drink), sex (women less likely to drink), and financial deprivation (middle groups consume more than least and most financially deprived). For Europeans a more homogenous drinking style prevailed by age, sex, and deprivation. Pacific drinkers were also approximately five times more likely to stop drinking compared to Europeans, citing family and social reasons as their main motivation for stopping drinking.

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