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People drink more in loud bars

21st July 2008

Bars that have music blaring from loudspeakers so loud that conversation is difficult may be inadvertently encouraging binge-drinking.

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A French study has shown that people who patronise bars in which the music is up loud are likely to drink more, and faster, than drinkers in other venues.

Nicolas Gueguen, professor of behavioural sciences at the Universite de Bretagne-Sud in France, said loud music was shown to correlate with both increased alcohol consumption and faster drinking.

He said previous studies had shown that fast music could cause fast drinking, and that music versus no music could cause a person to spend more time in a bar.

But the recent study had systematically studied the behaviour of drinkers in situ, he said.

Researchers worked with bar owners to manipulate the sound levels between 72 decibels (a typical volume) and 88 decibels (a loud volume), and observed the drinking behaviour of random males who ordered beer at the bar.

They observed 40 men between the ages of 18 and 25 while they visited one of two bars located in the western region of France.

They found that environmental music played in a bar was associated with an increase in drinking, with patrons ordering an average of 3.4 drinks when the music was loud, compared with 2.6 drinks when it was softer.

When the volume was notched up, drinkers took less than 11.5 minutes to finish a glass of beer, compared with an average of 14.5 minutes when it was turned down somewhat.

Writing in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, Guegen's team speculated that the louder music could cause higher nervous arousal, leading the subjects to drink faster and to order more drinks.

Another factor could be the adverse effect that loud music had on social interaction, leaving less time for conversation, they said.

They said bar owners should be encouragedto play music at more of a moderate level and make consumers aware that loud music can influence their alcohol consumption.

 

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