Attwood, Scott-Samuel, Stothart, Munafò (2012)
As is usual in such studies/research/polemics, they start off with the conclusion they want:
Note that they start off with the premise that binge drinking in the UK is a growing public concern. Not that it is a growing problem, but that the public perceive it to be a growing concern. Since alcohol consumption in the UK has been declining since 2004 this is clearly a specious premise, and renders any experiment to measure the reality of something (drinking speed) when the problem is the perception of something(binge drinking) somewhat useless.
Next they mention 'increased risk of personal and societal harm.' We already have measures in place to deal with 'personal and societal harm' whether caused by alcohol or not. It's called the judicial system - though some may argue with the (current) effectiveness of the system - the correct application of the system would render this part of the problem solved.
Lastly, they note that consumption has been shown to be sensitive to 'factors such as price and availability.' Economics 101. But alcohol is largely price in-elastic, meaning price changes don't affect consumption that much.
Onto the Methods of the experiment:
Whoops their experiment isn't modelling reality as well as it should be. In the body of the study they expand on these measures:
Lager and soft drinks, when sold in pubs which is the only place you can buy such beverages measured in 'fl oz' are sold in measures of 10 fl oz (or 1/2 pint to the rest of us) or 20 fl oz (1 pint.) [1 imperial pint is 20 imperial ounces - your results will vary if you go State-side]
On the other hand, if they're trying to address 'preloading' where people drink before they leave the house, then the measures are more likely to be on the order of 275ml(9.6floz) for bottles or 440ml(15.5floz) for cans. But of course, they're measuring the volume consumption when consumed from glasses:
Either way, measures of 6 fl oz and 12 fl oz do not represent standard drink sizes in the UK.
The summary is unclear here. To clarify each participant had to
- Drink all their (randomised size of drink and shape of glass) drink at their leisure while watching a bland segment of 'The Journey of a Lifetime, BBC Worldwide 2007.' Participants were videoed and these later measured for (among other things) sips taken, length of sips and total time to finish the drink.
- Separately, create an image of a glass that was half full by stating whether the current image was more or less than half full (depending on the response, the image would change to be closer to what the participant perceived to be half-full.)
Onto the results:
So putting a poncy French lager (which the participant might not like) into a straight glass appears to lengthen the time it takes to drink it while you're watching a boring documentary, longer than than it would take to consume if it were soft drink in there instead.
emphasises that they were all useless at judging the half-way point, regardless of the shape of the glass - the 'weird shaped' glass simply makes it more difficult to determine.
Having spun their results to fit the premise they then move onto the something must be done portion of the experiment thusly
Clearly, if putting just over half a pint of Brasserie de Saint-Omer into a straight glass is going to make the person take longer to drink it than if
- it was in a fluted glass or
- it was a soft drink instead
we need legislation to make it illegal to make, sell or use (even in your own home) non-straight glasses.
In the introduction, a rather worrying aspect is when they discuss the glasses currently in use in the UK:
- Glass Shape Influences Consumption Rate for Alcoholic Beverages - PLoS ONE
- Glass shape 'affects' drinking speed - NHS Choices
- Smirnoff Ice - Beerfax
- John Smith's Extra Smooth(Cans) - Beerfax