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Testing the pyramidal hypothesis of alcohol use distribution among the Nigerians, Arabs and Slavs in Belarus


According to the Ledermann Sully (1956) pyramidal hypothesis of alcohol use distribution, the increase in social drinkers in a given society leads to a disproportional increase in percentages of heavy users. In the same way, decrease in the number of social drinkers will have the greatest effect on heavy drinkers. In most western countries, where there are high percentages of heavy drinkers, the pyramid is broad. In Asian countries where there are fewer heavy drinkers the pyramid is a narrow one. The distribution of social drinkers compared to the heavy drinkers might differ among various ethnic groups even within a given country. We therefore, test the Ledermann hypothesis of alcohol use distribution among the Nigerians, Arabians and Slavs in Minsk, Belarus.

Materials and methods

The study was randomized and anonymous. Minsk was selected for the study since it inhabits over 22% (people from different parts of the country who have come to live in this city) of the country's total population. More so, it is the only city with highest number of foreigners (majority which are Nigerians, Arabs). Out of 56 Nigerians, 187 Arabs and 1988 Slavs that were explained the study aims and objectives, a total of 44 Nigerians, 120 Arabs and 1345 Slavs agreed to participate in the study. All respondents were administered questionnaire containing the AUDIT and other alcohol related questions. On the AUDIT, a score of 1-7 defines social alcohol use; 8-19 - heavy alcohol use; 20-40 - alcohol dependence.


Social drinkers, heavy drinkers and people with alcohol dependence in the general Belarusian population were: Slavs - 74.8%, 13.8%, 2.5% respectively; Arabs - 29.2%, 20.8%, 10.8% respectively; Nigerians - 30.8%, 11.5%, 3.8% respectively.


According to the Ledermann hypothesis, this study shows that, in Belarus, the pattern of alcohol use by Arabs could be denoted with a narrow pyramid (pattern of alcohol use in most Asian countries) and a broad pyramid (pattern of alcohol use in most western countries) for both Slavs and Nigerians.

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Correspondence to Menizibeya Welcome Osain.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Osain, M.W., Alekseevic, V.P. Testing the pyramidal hypothesis of alcohol use distribution among the Nigerians, Arabs and Slavs in Belarus. Ann Gen Psychiatry 9, S228 (2010).

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  • Public Health
  • Alcohol
  • Ethnic Group
  • Total Population
  • Western Country