More than three million people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol each year, according to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
This represents one in 20 deaths. More than three quarters of these deaths were among men. Overall, the harmful use of alcohol causes more than five per cent of the global disease burden.
WHO’s Global status report on alcohol and health 2018 presents a comprehensive picture of alcohol consumption and the disease burden attributable to alcohol worldwide. It also describes what countries are doing to reduce this burden.
“The figure which is presented in the report is three million deaths in 2016 were caused by the harmful use of alcohol. And from this three million 1.7 million are deaths due to noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases, cancers, substance use disorders, alcohol use disorders, mental conditions, so these are the major bulk of deaths, but another big group is related to injuries and violence,” said Vladimir Poznyak, the WHO Coordinator of Management of Substance Abuse Unit.
The report details that 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.
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.
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.
“It’s definitely a global problem and only in countries with higher proportion of a Muslim population the levels of alcohol consumption are relatively low. But at the same time in all parts of the world, alcohol consumption now is widespread and is a source of significant burden to population health. We have many deaths, we have disabilities, we have many diseases which in fact are developed due to alcohol use or with a contribution from alcohol use to their development,” Poznyak said.Global consumption predicted to increase in the next ten years.
“If we speak globally, worldwide since 2010 the overall alcohol consumption was stable but our predictions show that it may increase by 2025 quiet significantly. And particularly in some regions, like South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions where the countries have become more affluent and unless the appropriate measures will be taken by the governments these trends will continue and will result in significant health problems and health burden to their communities and populations,” he added.
An estimated 2.3 billion people are current drinkers. Alcohol is consumed by more than half of the population in three WHO regions – the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific.
Europe has the highest per capita consumption in the world, even though its per capita consumption has decreased by more than ten per cent since 2010.
The average daily consumption of people who drink alcohol is 33 grams of pure alcohol a day, roughly equivalent to two glasses (each of 150 ml) of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two shots (each of 40 ml) of spirits.
Worldwide, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all 15–19-year-olds are current drinkers. Rates of current drinking are highest among 15–19-year-olds in Europe (44 per cent), followed by the Americas (38 per cent) and the Western Pacific (38 percent).
School surveys indicate that, in many countries, alcohol use starts before the age of 15 with very small differences between boys and girls.
Source: United Nations