Sunday 23 February 2020

Alcohol consumption 'claimed over 3 million lives in 2016'

GENEVA, September 22, 2018

More than 3 million people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol in 2016, according to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO). 
This represents 1 in 20 deaths. More than three quarters of these deaths were among men. Overall, the harmful use of alcohol causes more than 5 per cent of the global disease burden, stated the 'Global status report on alcohol and health 2018' by the WHO.
It presents a comprehensive picture of alcohol consumption and the disease burden attributable to alcohol worldwide and also describes what countries are doing to reduce this burden.
"Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO. 
“It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies," he stated.
Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 per cent were due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes, self-harm and interpersonal violence; 21 per cent due to digestive disorders; 19 per cent due to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders and other health conditions, said the WHO report.
Despite some positive global trends in the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and number of alcohol-related deaths since 2010, the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high, particularly in the European Region and the Region of Americas, it added.
Globally an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol-use disorders with the highest prevalence among men and women in the European region (14.8 per cent and 3.5 per cent) and the Region of Americas (11.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent). 
Alcohol-use disorders are more common in high-income countries, said the report.
The global health body pointed out that an estimated 2.3 billion people were current drinkers. Alcohol is consumed by more than half of the population in three WHO regions – the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific, it added.
Europe has the highest per capita consumption in the world, even though its per capita consumption has decreased by more than 10 per cent since 2010. 
Current trends and projections point to an expected increase in global alcohol per capita consumption in the next 10 years, particularly in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions and the Region of the Americas.
On the quantity of alcohol people are drinking, the report stated that the average daily consumption was 33 gm of pure alcohol a day, roughly equivalent to 2 glasses (each of 150 ml) of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two shots (each of 40 ml) of spirits.
In the startling report, WHO said more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all 15 to19-year-olds worldwide were current drinkers. Rates of current drinking are highest among this age group in Europe (44 per cent), followed by the Americas (38 per cent) and the Western Pacific (38 per cent). 
School surveys indicate that, in many countries, alcohol use starts before the age of 15 with very small differences between boys and girls.
Worldwide, 45 per cent of total recorded alcohol is consumed in the form of spirits. Beer is the second alcoholic beverage in terms of pure alcohol consumed (34 per cent) followed by wine (12 per cent).
According to WHO, there have been only minor changes in preferences of alcoholic beverages since 2010. The largest changes took place in Europe, where consumption of spirits decreased by 3 per cent whereas that of wine and beer grew steadily.
In contrast, more than half (57 per cent, or 3.1 billion people) of the global population aged 15 years and over had abstained from drinking alcohol in the previous 12 months.
Dr Vladimir Poznyak, the co-ordinator of WHO’s Management of Substance Abuse unit, pointed out that all countries could do much more to reduce the health and social costs of the harmful use of alcohol.
"Proven, cost-effective actions include increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks, bans or restrictions on alcohol advertising, and restricting the physical availability of alcohol," he stated.
Higher-income countries are more likely to have introduced these policies, raising issues of global health equity and underscoring the need for greater support to low- and middle-income countries.
Almost all (95 per cent) countries have alcohol excise taxes, but fewer than half of them use other price strategies such as banning below-cost selling or volume discounts. 
The majority of countries have some type of restriction on beer advertising, with total bans most common for television and radio but less common for the internet and social media.
“We would like to see Member States implement creative solutions that will save lives, such as taxing alcohol and restricting advertising. We must do more to cut demand and reach the target set by governments of a 10 per cent relative reduction in consumption of alcohol globally between 2010 and 2025,” added Dr Tedros.
Reducing the harmful use of alcohol will help achieve a number of health-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those for maternal and child health, infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases and mental health, injuries and poisonings.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: US | Europe | alcohol | Teenagers | World Health Organization |

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