• Beer;
  • cohort;
  • heavy occasion drinking;
  • spirits;
  • trend;
  • wine.

We would like to than Dr Lanzmann-Petithory for her comments [1] on our age–period–cohort analyses about heavier drinking [2]. As she devoted most of the space to alcohol and health in general and the French paradox in particular, we would like to start our rejoinder with a remark on that topic. The role of wine in the French paradox is still controversial. It is now known that a large part of this seeming paradox can be explained by the coding practices of French doctors, who have been shown to overuse unspecific codes for cardiovascular disease, so-called ‘garbage codes’, artificially lowering the prevalence of ischaemic heart disease [3, 4]. As for the general impact of alcohol on health, most analyses come to the conclusion that it is mostly detrimental [e.g. [5]; the latest results of the Global Burden of Diseases study (GBD):].

Dr Lanzmann-Petithory [1] also suggests that the heavier drinking of the 1976–85 cohorts was due in part to the now infamous 60 Minutes feature on red wine in 1991. We believe this is somewhat unlikely. First, overall drinking (per capita consumption) was decreasing and wine consumption was flat at that time, and there was no sign of a change before and after the interview [6]. Secondly, it is unlikely that the 1976 to 1985 cohorts were directly affected by the feature, as they were aged between 6 and 15 years in 1991, so they did not constitute the main audience for the 60 Minutes news program. Wine consumption began to rise in 1996 and our analyses show increasing period effects for 2000 and 2005 as well as the cohort effects seen for the 1976–85 group, which are also found for spirits and beer. It may be that the general increase in the popularity of wine during this period was related to increasing affluence, as a US study found positive income effects for wine and spirits but negative income effects for beer during the post-1975 period [7].

The key question, however, is what caused this specific cohort to drink more heavily in the context of reduced drinking and heavy drinking for the population in more recent surveys compared to those in 1979 and 1984. In the paper, we speculate on the importance of good economic conditions during the formative years for the drinking of these cohorts in the late 1990s and on the increased marketing of spirits and spirits-branded flavored malt beverages in the early 2000s [2], as the cohort effects on spirits were found to be particularly large.

Declaration of interests



This study was supported by US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Alcohol Research Center grant no. P50-AA005595 to the Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute.


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