Aims To examine the proportion of self-reported alcohol consumed by different gender and age groups in Brazil over the past year, and to examine whether the ‘prevention paradox’ applies to Brazilian data on alcohol-related problems.
Design A multi-stage cluster sample, representative of the Brazilian household population.
Setting This study was conducted in Brazil between November 2005 and April 2006.
Participants Respondents were aged ≥ 14 years (n = 3007).
Measurements Measures included past year estimates of (i) number of standard drinks, (ii) frequency of binge drinking, and (iii) alcohol-related problems.
Findings The survey response rate was 66.4%. The top 2.5% of the drinkers by volume consume 14.9%, the top 5% consume 27.4% and the top 10% consume 44.2% of all alcohol consumed in Brazil. Men consume 77.8% of the total alcohol, and 18–29-year-olds consume 40.3%. Individuals below risky drinking guidelines for weekly volumetric intake account for 49–50% of all problem drinkers and 45–47% of all problem types reported. Individuals who do not binge or who binge infrequently (1–3 times/year) account for 50–51% of all problem drinkers and 45–46% of all reported problem types. Most binge drinkers are low-volume drinkers.
Conclusions Consistent with the prevention paradox literature, most drinking problems in Brazil are associated with low or moderate drinking. Binge drinking accounts more clearly for the distribution of alcohol problems than total volume consumed.