So long, Dry January: Which country drinks the most alcohol in Europe?

If you feel that Europeans drink a lot, your guess is correct. People in continental Europe consume more alcohol than anywhere else in the world.

Each year in Europe, every person over the age of 15 consumes an average of 9.5 liters of pure alcohol. This equates to approximately 190 liters of beer, 80 liters of wine and 24 liters of spirits.

This is according to the 2021 European Health Report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO European Region, which covers a large geographic area of ​​53 countries, including former Soviet states such as Russia and Moldova, reported a total per capita alcohol consumption of 2.5 liters (21%) between 2000 and 2019. Decreased.

But people continue to drink, especially in Western Europe. Of the 10 countries with the most alcohol consumption in the world (adjusted for tourist consumption), 9 are in the European Union (EU).

In 2019, 8.4% of the EU adult population (15+) consumed alcohol daily, 28.8% drank weekly, 22.8% drank monthly, and 26.2 never drank alcoholic beverages. Or they said they didn’t drink at all. last 12 months.

Although there are large differences in estimated alcohol consumption across EU countries, one trend remains prevalent. Men drink more than women. 4.1% of women drink alcohol daily compared to 13.0% of men. 21.7% of women drink weekly compared to 36.4% of men.

The largest gender disparities in drinking are in Portugal (33.4% of men vs. 9.7% of women) and Spain (20.2% vs. 6.1%).

Which country in Europe drinks the most?

The top 10 EU countries with the highest per capita alcohol consumption in 2019 were the Czech Republic (14.3 liters), Latvia (13.2), Republic of Moldova (12.9), Germany (12.8), Lithuania (12.8) and Ireland (12.7). ), Spain (12.7), Bulgaria (12.5), Luxembourg (12.4), Romania (12.3).

The 10 countries with the lowest alcohol consumption in the WHO European Region are Tajikistan (0.9 liters), Azerbaijan (1.0), Turkey (1.8), Uzbekistan (2.6), Turkmenistan (3.1), Israel (4.4) and Armenia (4.7). ) am. , Kazakhstan (5.0), Albania (6.8), North Macedonia (6.4).

Note that most countries on this list, with the exception of North Macedonia, Armenia, and Israel, have a majority Muslim population where alcohol consumption is banned and condemned.

In contrast, no country in the EU has less than 5 liters of pure alcohol per capita per year. 8.3 liters), Croatia (8.7), Sweden (9.0), Netherlands (9.7).

Europeans drink a lot, how often do they drink?

Data show that as people get older, so does their daily alcohol intake.

People aged 15-24 were the smallest group (representing only 1%) in the daily drinking statistics, and those over 75 were more likely to drink daily (16%).

However, the elderly group has the highest proportion (40.3%) of those who either never drink alcohol or have not had a drink in the last 12 months.

In the EU, Portugal has the highest daily alcohol consumption, with one-fifth of the population (20.7%) consuming alcohol daily, followed by Spain (13.0%) and Italy (12.1%). Latvia and Lithuania have the lowest percentages of daily drinkers at around 1%.

The EU member states with the highest percentage of their population who drink alcohol each week are the Netherlands (47.3%), Luxembourg (43.1%) and Belgium (40.8%).

Croatia has the highest proportion of the population (38.3%) who said they have never consumed alcohol or have not consumed alcohol in the last 12 months.

In all European countries, it is clear that women abstain from alcohol more than men.

Women are the most sober in Italy, with 46.7% saying they either never drink alcohol or have not had a drink in the last 12 months (compared to 21.5% of men). In Cyprus, the figure is 44.2% for women vs. 12.8% for men, and in Bulgaria it is 42.0% for women vs. 16.2% for men.

Comparison of binge drinking episodes

Some EU countries have more episodes of heavy drinking than others.

Binge drinking is defined as a one-time consumption of the equivalent of 60 grams of pure ethanol (about 6 standard alcoholic drinks).

Nearly one in five Europeans (19%) reported having one or more binge drinks per month in 2019.

Denmark (38%), Romania (35%), Luxembourg (34%), Germany (30%) and Belgium (28%) have the highest percentage of adults who drink heavily at least once a month. bottom. percent).

Interestingly, countries such as Spain and Italy, where the majority of the population drinks alcohol daily, rank very low in alcohol consumption, at 6% and 4% respectively.

According to Eurostat, regular and risky one-off alcohol consumption is disproportionately high among men. among those who are getting higher.

How often do you drink in England?

With the UK leaving the EU in 2020, the island nation is no longer included in Eurostat data.

However, the British have a reputation for being heavy drinkers. So how do their drinking habits compare to the EU?

According to Drinkaware, an independent charity that produces an annual report on alcohol consumption in the UK, 57% of UK men and 47% of women consumed alcohol at least weekly in 2020.

The average of 52% is more than 23% higher than the average percentage of Europeans who reported drinking once a week in 2019 (28.8%).

14% report never drinking alcohol (26.2% in the EU).

How much is safe to drink?

According to WHO, there is no safe level of drinking. Not drinking alcohol is the only way to avoid its harmful effects.

However, the government has issued guidance on low-risk consumption.

For example, Canadians were recently told by the National Center for Substance Use and Addiction to limit their drinking to just two drinks a week. This is a significant reduction from the previous recommendation of

Europe is more lenient than Canada, and the guidelines are relatively similar across EU member states.

For example, Belgium states that the limit is 21 standard glasses per week for men and 14 for women, whether it’s 1/2 pint of beer or 1 glass of wine.

However, Ireland recommends a standard weekly drink of up to 17 drinks for men and 11 drinks for women.

In Bulgaria and the Netherlands, the recommended daily limit is either one glass of wine, one glass of beer, or 50ml of spirits.

In Germany, the maximum daily allowance for men is 24 g of alcohol, which equates to 500 ml of beer (1 pint), 250 ml of wine (1 large glass of wine), or 60 ml of liqueur. increase. Women are advised to drink half.

Estonia recommends abstaining from alcohol for at least three days a week.

Luxembourg and Cyprus advise preferring wine and beer to spirits. According to Norway, alcohol should not exceed 5% of total caloric intake.

The UK’s NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week for at least three days. This is the equivalent of 6 medium (175 ml) wine glasses or 6 pints of 4% alcohol beer.

Women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently because they have less water in their bodies than men of similar weight. This generally means that women have higher blood alcohol levels after drinking the same amount of alcohol.

deadly toll of alcohol

The WHO has linked alcohol to 30% of deaths from unintentional injuries such as drowning and traffic accidents, and 39% of deaths from intentional injuries such as suicide and homicide.

Alcohol consumption is also associated with unsafe psychological and social consequences, such as luring young people to other substances and unprotected sex, and ultimately contributes to the transmission of diseases such as HIV and viral hepatitis. .

WHO estimates that alcohol is responsible for approximately 1 million deaths each year across the WHO European Region and 3 million deaths worldwide.

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