Alcohol use across the life course: links with health and wellbeing


This research project used evidence from all four of our cohort studies to investigate the short- and long-term health impacts of alcohol. The project was part of the Cross Cohort Research Programme.

Research details

Project title

Alcohol use across the life course: links with health and wellbeing

Project lead

Jennifer Maggs


Health behaviours

Mental health and wellbeing

Physical health



1 April 2016 – December 2018




Alcohol is a key risk factor for chronic disease, injury and death, and is therefore of significant policy relevance. It raises key questions about causal processes, such as selection. Health guidance, policy, and early prevention require solid evidence about timing and mechanisms of dangers (or benefits) of drinking.

This project used data from the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS), 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70), Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) and Next Steps (previously known as the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, LSYPE).

Two connected streams of research are extending our prior US National Institutes of Health-funded work on predictors and consequences of alcohol use in the British cohort studies and facilitating closer collaboration with CLS investigators. Using over five decades of NCDS, BCS70, Next Steps, and MCS data covering childhood through midlife, our US-based team is collaborating with the other project leads to assess short- and long-term impacts of alcohol use on health-risk behaviours, mental health, and physical health.

Featured scientific publications

Staff J.A, Maggs J, Ploubidis G, Bonell C. (2018)
Risk factors associated with early smoking onset in two large birth cohorts
Addictive Behaviors, available online, June 12, 2018
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Maggs J, Staff J.A. (2018)
Parents Who Allow Early Adolescents to Drink
Journal of Adolescent Health. 2018; 62:2; 245-247
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Staff J.A, Maggs J. (2017)
Alcohol and Cigarette Use From Ages 23 to 55: Links With Health and Well-Being in the Long-Term National Child Development Study
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2017; 78:3, 394-403
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Maggs J, Staff J.A (2017)
No Benefit of Light to Moderate Drinking for Mortality From Coronary Heart Disease When Better Comparison Groups and Controls Included: A Commentary on Zhao et al.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 2017; 78:3; 387-388
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Patrick M E, Wray-Lake L, Maggs J L. (2017)
Early life predictors of alcohol-related attitudes among 11-year-old never drinkers.
Addictive behaviors. 2017; 66; 26-32.
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Evans-Polce R J, Staff J, Maggs J L. (2016)
Alcohol abstention in early adulthood and premature mortality: Do early life factors, social support, and health explain this association?
Social science & medicine (1982). 2016; 163; 71-9.
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Staff J, Maggs J L, Cundiff K, Evans-Polce R J. (2016)
Childhood cigarette and alcohol use: Negative links with adjustment.
Addictive behaviors. 2016; 62; 122-8.
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Jennifer Maggs Visiting Research Associate


Jennifer Maggs is Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the Prevention Research Centre for the Promotion of Human Development, Pennsylvania State University, in the US.

Jennifer is working on the “prevalence predictors and consequences of alcohol use from childhood to midlife” project funded by the National Institute of Health, USA.  She will be working with Prof. Lucinda Platt and the MCS team to include additional measures of alcohol attitudes and use in the MCS fifth survey, and will be participating in the Consultations on MCS6 on 7th October at the Institute.

More information about Jennifer can be obtained from the Penn State University website.

Jeremy Staff Penn State

Relevant studies

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL


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