06 September 2012

Are you drinking too fast? The shape of the glass is to blame!

Recently, the problem of alcohol abuse, especially among young people, has become increasingly relevant.

The growth of drunkenness and the criminal activity associated with it is so great that respectable citizens increasingly avoid moving around the "criminal" areas of cities at a later time. Moreover, alcoholism is a threat to public health. According to WHO data, alcohol consumption is the cause of 2.5 million deaths annually in the world and the third most important factor in the burden of morbidity. Despite the fact that WHO considers the most effective legislative measures, such as raising the price of alcoholic beverages and increasing the age at which it is permissible to purchase alcohol, such measures are so unpopular that governments are extremely reluctant to resort to them.

Given the problematic nature of legislative control over alcohol consumption, Angela Attwood from the University of Bristol and her colleagues suggest approaching this problem from a different angle. Attwood explains that people often do not realize how much and at what speed they drink. For example, an earlier study by scientists at Queen Margaret University showed that, on average, the content of a self–poured portion of alcohol is twice as much as one "drink" - a standard portion corresponding to half a pint (284 ml) of beer with a strength of 3.5-4%, a small glass of wine with a strength of 8% (125 ml) or 25 ml of 40-degree.

Attwood suggested that the shape of the glass may influence the estimate of the volume of booze. To test this hypothesis, the researchers randomly divided 160 young healthy people – university students and teachers, as well as several outside volunteers (of course, it was not difficult to find them :). The brave testers, regardless of gender, were divided into two groups: those who use (in their words) 10-50 or only 5-35 drinks a week. With the help of the AUDIT test developed by WHO, designed to identify a dangerous level of alcohol consumption for a person, only so-called "social beer lovers" were selected to participate in the study and alcoholics were excluded.

The riskiest of the groups was assigned to drink about 177 ml or 354 ml of light beer or non-alcoholic carbonated drink from beer glasses with straight or curved walls. During the experiment, the researchers made sure that the situation remained emotionally neutral and the participants were focused exclusively on their glasses. The whole process was recorded on video for two sessions, while the real purpose of the experiment was masked by puzzles issued at the end of each session.

After watching the video and recording the time it took the participants to empty their glasses, the scientists found that drinking a larger volume of beer (354 ml) from a glass with straight walls took about 13 minutes, while glasses with curved walls accelerated this process to less than 8 minutes and practically equalized the speed of beer consumption with the speed of soda consumption. At the same time, the shape of the glass did not affect the rate of drinking a smaller volume of beer (177 ml).

Attwood believes that the reason for this lies in the difficulty of determining the half-fullness of a curved glass. Since a person involuntarily chooses the middle of the glass as the point determining the speed of emptying, the curved shape somewhat confuses him. A simple solution to this problem is to put a label on beer glasses indicating half the volume: this will improve the ability of beer lovers to control the situation.

Experts agree with the importance of the Attwood effect identified, but they point to a number of shortcomings of the experiment. For example, according to Jan Gill from Queen Margaret University, the inclusion in the study of people who drink up to 50 drinks a week – about 12 liters of beer with a strength of 3.5-4% – sets quite wide boundaries of "social" alcohol consumption. She believes that with such a level of alcohol consumption, people will drink it quickly, regardless of factors such as the shape of the glass, since their goal is to achieve a state of intoxication.

Article by Angela S. Attwood et al. Glass Shape Influences Consumption Rate for Alcoholic Beverages is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Your health, skool, prozit, zai gesund, kampai!

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of the University of Bristol:
Glass shape influences how quickly we drink alcohol.


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