CAMBRIDGE, England — If you must find a culprit behind your inability to avoid getting tipsy whenever you crack open a new bottle of wine, just blame your glass, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge looked at time-based changes in the sizes of various British wine glasses, finding that the average capacity of such vessels has grown from 66 milliliters (ml) in the 1700s to 449 milliliters today, a nearly sevenfold increase.
Although this increase in capacity did happen gradually, the pace has picked up dramatically, with the average glass’ volume swelling by over 30 mL just over the past decade.
Fittingly, both wine and alcohol intake have taken off over the past few decades, with sales of the former quadrupling from 1960 to 1980, before doubling again through 2004.
Still, the researchers were unable to determine whether expanding glass sizes have led to increasing wine consumption in England, nor whether reducing a container’s size could effectively curtail drinking.
Social and economic variables that may have played a role in Brits’ burgeoning affinity for booze include greater affordability, availability, and marketing, the researchers speculate.
Indirectly, American bars and restaurants may have also have lent a helping hand through their demand for bigger glasses, imported from the UK.
Although manufacturers may not feel the urgent need to craft smaller glasses, policymakers can better control their constituents’ drinking habits by mandating that licensed premises set fair prices and decrease serving sizes, the researchers suggest.
In developed nations, alcohol is the fifth-largest risk factor for early death and disability, which, in sobering terms, shows how dangerous drinking can be.
The researchers published their findings in the journal The BMJ.
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