Home > The symbolic consumption processes associated with 'low-calorie' and 'low-sugar' alcohol products and Australian women.

Pitt, Hannah and McCarthy, Simone and Keric, Danica and Arnot, Grace and Marko, Sarah and Martino, Florentine and Stafford, Julia and Thomas, Samantha (2023) The symbolic consumption processes associated with 'low-calorie' and 'low-sugar' alcohol products and Australian women. Health Promotion International, 38, (6), https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daad184.

External website: https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/38/6/daad1...

The influence of commercial actors, practices and processes on the health and wellbeing of women is still not well understood. The alcohol industry has developed a range of products to appeal to new 'health conscious' markets, such as 'low-calorie' and 'low-sugar' products. While these products may have specific appeal for women, there has been little in-depth research that has sought to understand how women conceptualize these products and the range of symbolic meanings that women associate with these products. An online qualitatively led survey was conducted with n = 497 Australian women who had consumed alcohol in the last year. Questions related to the reasons for and influences on alcohol use, the purchasing of 'low-calorie' or 'low-sugar' products and the influence that these products might have on women's alcohol use. Data were interpreted using reflexive thematic analysis. Women consumed alcohol to relax, cope with everyday stressors and because of the alignment with social practices and social connection. Women perceived that these products provided a healthier alternative to traditional alcohol products and that they aligned with women's values relating to weight and the thin ideal. Some women were concerned that these products could increase alcohol consumption by reducing the perceptions of risk associated with alcohol. Policy consideration is needed to address how product claims and attributes may influence population groups' interpretations of the risks and benefits of these alcohol products, including the illusion that these products have protective potential and are better for overall health and wellbeing.

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