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The world is reaching for the bottle: Global alcohol consumption has risen by 70 percent

The world is reaching for the bottle: Global alcohol consumption has risen by 70 percent


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Alcohol: Germany is well above the global average

Global alcohol consumption has increased by 70 percent worldwide since 1990. Especially in middle-income countries like China and India, alcohol consumption has become much more popular in the past 30 years. The current global average is 6.5 liters of pure alcohol per capita. According to forecasts, this will increase to 7.6 liters by 2030. For comparison: The average alcohol consumption in Germany is 12 liters of pure alcohol per capita - almost twice as high as the global average.

The data comes from the largest study on alcohol consumption worldwide to date. An international research group highlighted alcohol consumption in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016. The results were recently published in the renowned journal "The Lancet". The Technical University of Dresden now provided a forecast up to 2030.

International targets for alcohol reduction are largely missed

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set itself the goal of reducing global alcohol consumption by ten percent by 2025. Instead, consumption will increase by around 15 percent, predicted the team headed by Professor Jürgen Rehm, head of the epidemiological research group addiction.

Who drinks how much?

The current global average in 2016 was 6.5 liters of pure alcohol per capita. This corresponds to around a bottle of beer (0.33 liters) a day. According to the TU Dresden, the average in Germany is at least 12 liters per head, i.e. just under two bottles of beer a day. However, since the figures are per capita consumption, the actual consumption of the individual is much higher, because according to the study, around 53 percent of the world's population does not drink alcohol and a large part only occasionally. In addition, two thirds of the alcohol is consumed by men. Thus, a large part of the total consumption is accounted for by habitual male drinkers. The number of people who have stayed abstinent for a lifetime has dropped from 46 to 43 percent, according to the study. The lowest alcohol rates worldwide were in the Middle East and North Africa.

Alcohol is increasingly being consumed in emerging countries

In Germany, alcohol consumption has remained relatively stable over the past decades - at a high level. There was even a slight downward trend in Europe. Emerging middle-income countries such as India, China and Vietnam are primarily responsible for the increased global consumption. "The forecasts were significantly higher than expected," explains Professor Rehm in a press release on the study.

Alcohol favors 200 diseases

As the researchers emphasize, alcohol is a major health risk factor and has been linked to over 200 diseases and injuries. Among other things, alcohol favors

  • Heart diseases such as atrial fibrillation and flutter, stroke, hypertensive heart disease, ischemic heart disease and alcoholic cardiomyopathy;
  • Cancer of the breast, intestine, liver, esophagus, larynx, lip, oral cavity or nose;
  • Cirrhosis of the liver;
  • Diabetes;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis);
  • Respiratory infections and tuberculosis;
  • Interpersonal violence and self-harm;
  • Poisoning;
  • Accidents like traffic accidents or drowning.

Are we too lax with alcohol?

"We need an effective alcohol policy, especially in countries that are developing quickly and have increasing alcohol consumption," says Professor Jürgen Rehm. To limit alcohol consumption, for example, higher taxation, a restriction of availability and advertising bans are needed. (vb)

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