Jan 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:24 AM EST

Shape of Glass Affects Drinking Behavior

May 10, 2015 03:50 PM EDT


Could the glass you are served your adult beverage of choice in change how you drink?  New research from England now says yes as researchers found that people drink more slowly when alcohol is served in a straight sided glass than when its served in glasses with curved sides.

The study, conducted by scientists from the University of Bristol's Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group and funded by Alcohol Research UK, also suggests that volume markings on glasses encourage people to drink much more slowly.

"Our research suggests that small changes such as glass shape and volume markings can help individuals make more accurate judgments of the volume they are drinking and hopefully drinkers will use this information to drink at a slower pace," Dr. Angela Attwood, a research fellow at the university and the senior researcher on the study, said in a written statement.

For the study, researchers recruited 80 men and 80 women with no history of alcohol problems and then split them into two groups.  The members of the first group were given beer in curved glasses with markings at one-quarter, one-half and three-quarters.  The other group were given beer in curved glasses with no markings.

Researchers then looked at how quickly each group drank their beer.  They found that after accounting for people who drank in the category of "abnormally slow," that the people with marked glasses finished their beer in about 10.3 minutes compared to 9.1 minutes for people with an unmarked glass.

Researchers then expanded their tests to the real world.  They asked three pubs look at how much beer they sold over four weekends and what kinds of glasses were used. 

When pubs used straight sided glasses instead of curved ones, they had lower sales.  According to researchers, this indicated less alcohol consumption.

The study only used a small number of pubs and the duration of the test was very short, leading researchers to say that the findings are preliminary, although still valuable.  "We now know it is feasible to conduct this type of research in real world situations and this will have implications for future research," Troy said in the statement.

Not everyone in the scientific community agrees, however.  "There's no doubt that context matters when it comes to alcohol and drug use," Dr. Anna Lembke, director of Stanford University's Addiction Medicine Program, told The Huffington Post in an email. "But a study showing that social drinkers with marked glasses drank the same amount of alcohol 1.2 minutes slower than drinkers with unmarked glasses is hardly meaningful."

Regardless of how the scientific community responds to this particular study, the overconsumption of alcohol is a major health problem.  According to the World Health Organization, the consumption of alcohol is responsible for 3.3 million deaths around the world each year.

This new research was presented  at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society in Liverpool, England on May 6.

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