Experts Expect Hazardous Drinking To Increase Globally

From 1990 and 2017, adult consumption of alcohol has increased, per capita, almost 0.7 litres per year. This is quite disappointing news as it means most of the world is not on track to reduce health and social harm targets from alcohol use and abuse, a target set by 190 countries.  

Indeed, the latest study from scientists in Germany and Canada estimated the amount of [pure] alcohol consumed per year, among people at least age 15, based on national data. From this data, then, the group forecast consumption through the year 2030.  

Study co-author Jürgen Rehm comments, “Alcohol use has been increasing … and alcohol use will seemingly continue to increase, despite the knowledge about consequence.” The University of Toronto professor and senior scientist goes on to warn, “This is clearly different than tobacco.”

In the study, global consumption per person—globally—increased from 5.9 litres to 6.5 litres (about 1.7 gallons) between 1990 and 2017.  These numbers, then, are expected to reach 7.6 litres (about 2 gallons) by 2030.  Another way to look at this is that by 2030, about half the world will drink, while about 40 percent will abstain.  In addition, nearly one quarter will binge drink (at least once a month).  These are all increases of between 11 and 19 percent. Binge drinking is considered habitual consumption of four standard drinks (or more) on any single occasion, at least once a month. 

As we have long known, alcohol consumption is widely known to either cause or contribute to a variety of diseases and conditions. This includes serious ailments like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.  Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to disability as well as death from disease and/or injury. 

While the study indicates a definite trend, the new report did not investigate any potential reasons for them.  Of course, as the authors note, there are many factors that can affect alcohol use levels, over time.  Three of these factors stand out above the others: religion, economic wealth, and social/legal implementation of alcohol policy. 

It should be noted that the cohort is varies by country and region. India and Vietnam, for example, had the largest increases in drinking but numbers in Russia, the UK, and Peru were dramatically lower.  Still, researchers insist that the trend suggests a higher percentage of the global population will be regular (or binge) drinkers).