Britons drinking less alcohol, study shows
Britons are drinking less alcohol, despite the amount consumed worldwide being on the rise, a study has shown.
UK consumption dropped from 12.6 litres of pure alcohol a year per adult in 1990 to 12.3 litres in 2010, and to 11.4 litres in 2017.
It is predicted to drop even further, to 11 litres, by 2030, according to a study of 189 countries’ alcohol intake published in The Lancet.
But campaigners warned that four out of five people with an alcohol problem in the UK were still not getting treatment as they called for more support to be available at an earlier stage.
The research measured alcohol consumption per person between 1990 and 2017 from World Health Organisation data and the Global Burden of Disease study.
It showed consumption globally increased by 70% from 20,999 million litres in 1990 to 35,676 million litres in 2017.
Jakob Manthey, the study’s author from TU Dresden, Germany, said: “Our study provides a comprehensive overview of the changing landscape in global alcohol exposure.
“Before 1990, most alcohol was consumed in high-income countries, with the highest use levels recorded in Europe.
“However, this pattern has changed substantially, with large reductions across eastern Europe and vast increases in several middle-income countries such as China, India and Vietnam.
“This trend is forecast to continue up to 2030 when Europe is no longer predicted to have the highest level of alcohol use.”
More than one in seven (15%) people in the UK abstained from alcohol in 2017, three in four (77%) had alcohol, and more than one in four (26%) were binge drinking at least once a month.
If these trends continue, by 2030 more than one in eight (13%) people in the UK will abstain from alcohol, almost four in five (79%) will drink alcohol, and more than one in four (28%) will binge drink at least once a month.
The number of drinks that are equivalent to the measure of pure alcohol differs by country – in the UK a standard drink is 8g of pure alcohol. A measure of 5.9 litres is equivalent to one-and-a-half UK standard drinks per day.
Karen Tyrell, of drug and alcohol charity Addaction, warned: “In the UK, four out of five people with an alcohol problem aren’t getting any sort of treatment. We need to make it a lot easier to get help and support at a much earlier stage.
“Alcohol is soaked through our culture. The alcohol industry has set the terms of the debate for too long. Flashy marketing disguises an industry that doesn’t do nearly enough to compensate for the harm it causes. We know that 4% of drinkers consume one-third of the alcohol sold.
“Helping people make healthier choices is vital but all the evidence shows we need a better policy if we are serious about change.”
The Alcohol Information Partnership said the study showed more people in the UK are “now drinking responsibly than harmfully”, with “old negative stereotypes increasingly a thing of the past”.