Greater alcoholism risk for bar, eatery staff

A barman serves customers in Stockholm in 2007.

Bar and restaurant workers in Sweden run a higher risk of alcoholism than the rest of the population, with young women at greatest risk, a study published Tuesday showed.

The research, which appeared in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health and surveyed 1,000 people aged 18 to 59, concluded that "restaurant workers comprise a high-risk group with respect to drinking."

"The prevalence of hazardous drinking is greatly elevated in Swedish restaurant workers" compared to other professions, it said, noting that 63 per cent of the bar and restaurant employees surveyed had hazardous drinking habits.

Some 600 people in the industry took part in the study, and around 400 in other sectors. The results were based on respondents' answers on their drinking habits in a questionnaire.

Young women between the ages of 18 and 29 were at greatest risk, with 82 per cent of them drinking hazardous amounts, compared to 72 per cent of men in the same age range.

The results were not a surprise, one of the authors of the study, Swedish sociologist Thor Norstroem, told AFP.

"Previous studies pointed in this direction," he said, citing research done in the United States and Norway.

A union representative for the bar and restaurant workers, Stefan Eriksson, told Swedish news agency TT the numbers were "tragic".

"We can only talk to the owners, they are responsible, and make sure they have programmes against (excessive consumption of) alcohol, that they want to change the culture and that they have a strict attitude and clear rules. They don't, in a lot of cases," he said.

The phenomenon has two plausible explanations, authors said.

Either the bar and restaurant industry attracts people who have a high alcohol intake from the outset, or that the stressful work environment and availability of alcohol are conducive to extensive alcohol consumption.

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