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Price survey comparison of alcoholic beverages with the five basic food groups in Paraiba, Brazil

Abramson, Charles I.
Howard, Waylon
Zolna, Mia
Nain, Shakuntla
Aquino, Italo S.
Rocha, Herbert
Moraes, Zeyna
Page, Melanie M.
The study of alcohol abuse is relatively new in Brazil. Government estimates suggest that 11.2% of the Brazilian population is alcohol dependent. Problems associated with alcohol dependence include domestic violence, increased risk of traffic accidents, poor self-esteem and weak academic performance. A factor known to correlate with alcohol abuse in 12-17 year olds is to have the money necessary to purchase alcoholic beverages. No data is available, however, on the price of alcoholic beverages. The objective of the present study was to provide data on price and to compare the price of alcoholic beverages to basic food items in the Brazilian diet. We also had interest in studying a population in the northeast region of Brazil. This region is the poorest in Brazil, has the highest percentage of alcohol dependency and is seldom the focus of research on dependency. We report that the prices of many alcoholic beverages are less than the price of basic food items. Prices of alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits were compared to the prices of select food items as represented in the Food Pyramid. Food items were selected from the categories of Grain, Dairy, Fruit, Meat and Vegetable. Data was gathered from 32 supermarkets in 8 cities in the northeast state of Paraiba. The price of alcohol is generally less expensive than most basic food group items, especially brands of cachaca (a spirit distilled from sugar cane) and beer. Data on price should be considered in any alcohol dependency program in Brazil.