Does the socio-economic level affect the health benefits of wine?

by Marta Burgués
wine and socio-economic level

Studies that state the benefits of wine for health are innumerable. Now, in addition, there are other investigations that could relate those benefits, like protection against heart diseases, with having a good socio-economic level.

Studies on the benefits of wine and economic level

Specifically, the PLOS Medicine study deepens the relationship between wine and health through a socio-economic vision. The researchers state that economic differences regarding health are a great challenge for the public health system, and especially in the investigation on alcohol, several previous studies have observed a paradox. Although individuals with a low socio-economic status drink less, on average, compared to those with a higher position, they tend to end up in the hospital more frequently due to alcohol-related illnesses.

Keys of the research

The researchers analysed consumption habits and economic level, according to the household conditions, the household income and the education levels of more than 207,000 Norwegian adults from 1987 to 2003. They classified the data according to the frequency of alcohol consumption, and three classifications of socio-economic position were created: low, medium or high. Then they calculated the risk of cardiovascular disease for each group.

The researchers focused on the frequency with which each person drank, and less on the amount consumed per session of drinking, although the study differentiates between drinking in excess (five or more drinks per occasion) and not in excess. They concluded that excessive alcohol consumption and a higher frequency of consumption were linked.

Moderately frequent consumption (drinking alcohol two or three times per week) was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than lower consumption (less than once per month). This benefit was significantly more important among those with a higher socio-economic status.

Previous studies

But these are not the only studies that relate economic level with health benefits of wine. In 2016, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analysed the relationship between income and life expectancy, based on the income data of 1.4 billion US tax records. It was concluded that a higher income was associated with a longer life at all levels of wealth.

wine and wealth

Lifestyle differences among socio-economic classes

In short, the Norwegian study analyses lifestyle differences between socio-economic classes as a possible explanation: those who occupy a higher position may be more likely to consume their alcohol with a meal, which is believed to be healthier than drinking without eating. In addition, this includes a greater knowledge about healthy living and access to better medical care for wealthier people.

Regardless of the socio-economic status, it seems that wine lovers should be able to keep this risk to a minimum, and possibly enjoy some protection benefits, if they practice moderation and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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