People in Europe continue to consume more alcohol than in any other place in the world, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Rates of harmful alcohol consumption in Europe have not dropped as expected, even though all countries have signed the European Action Plan to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol 2012–2020, the report shows.
The “Status report on alcohol consumption, harm and policy responses in 30 European countries 2019”, which uses data gathered from 2010 to 2016, shows that over 290 000 people lose their life in Europe per year from alcohol-attributable causes, and urges stronger policy action by countries to help reduce the numbers.
On average, adults in EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland (EU+) drink the equivalent of more than 2 bottles of wine per week.
This number jumps to 3 per week when abstainers and former drinkers are removed from the data sample, a level of consumption which is considered to lead to serious health consequences.
The data also reveals that heavy episodic drinking is also a problem in Europe.
Across the population, 30.4% of people report having consumed more than 60g of pure alcohol on a single occasion in the last 30 days – this is equivalent to more than five drinks on one occasion. This pattern is more of an issue among men (47.4%), compared to women (14.4%) and is most prevalent in the Baltic countries, Czechia and Luxembourg.
In Belgium, this figure jumps higher, with 49.6% of men and 15.6% of women displaying the pattern of episodic drinking.
“With as many as 800 people dying every day in parts of the Region [Europe] due to alcohol-attributable harm, we must do more to continue the fight,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
The Brussels Times