Reid K Hester Ph.D.

Significant Impact

Increases in Drinking Worldwide (1990-2017)

The news is mixed, though, with some good and some not-so-good news.

Posted May 09, 2019

A paper published yesterday in The Lancet describes increases in drinking around the world. The devil is in the details though, as there is some really good news, as well as not-so-good news. First, the good news:

  • Europe and Russia both experienced declines in drinking. This decline was 22% in Russia, down to 13 quarts (pure alcohol), and 7.4% in the UK (now down to 12 quarts). Azerbaijan had an 82% decrease in drinking from 1990 to 2017.
  • In the U.S., there was a slight increase in per capita consumption (6%) but binge drinking declined from 29% to 27% (a binge drinking episode is 5+ standard drinks per occasion for men and 4+ for women). That is also good news, even if it's not as striking as the declines seen in Europe and Russia.

The not so good news is in Asia. In India, consumption went up 38% (to 6.2 quarts) while in Vietnam it went up a whopping 90% (to 9.4 quarts). In China, binge drinking increased from 16% to 30%.

Overall, this is most definitely a mixed picture. The researchers also modeled continued changes in drinking based on these changes over this past period of time, and that's where uncertainty comes into the picture. Yes, the projections are for continued increases in drinking in Asia, yet that projection assumes that the countries take no action to address the increases. We certainly know that alcohol-focused policies can impact drinking, especially heavy drinking. So rather than be alarmist about these increases in Asia, these data could serve as a call to action to reduce alcohol-related harms.

References

Global alcohol exposure between 1990 and 2017 and forecasts until 2030: a modelling study (2019). Jakob Manthey, MA, Kevin D Shield, PhD, Margaret Rylett, MA, Omer S M Hasan, BA, Charlotte Probst, PhD, Jürgen Rehm, PhD

Published:May 07, 2019 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32744-2