According to figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) this week, alcohol contributes to the death of 3.3 million people worldwide each year, equivalent to 5.9 % of global deaths. This translates into one death every 10 seconds from either alcohol related disease, drink driving or alcohol-induced violence and abuse. In comparison HIV/AIDS is responsible for 2.8 %.

The report covered 194 countries globally and focussed on alcohol consumption and its impact on public health.
WHO estimate that 16% of the world’s drinkers misuse alcohol to excess either by binge drinking or consuming alcohol on a regular ongoing basis.

According to their own guidelines excessive alcohol drinking corresponds to an average consumption of at least 60 grams of pure ethanol per day. This equates to approximately 7.5 units of alcohol, or approximately 3 pints of beer or 2 to 3 large glasses of wine (depending on the alcoholic strength of the beer and wine) on a daily basis over several months.

Europe leads the way with the highest consumption of alcohol per capita. The study found that Eastern European men who drank consumed an average of 32 litres of pure alcohol each year. Wealthy nations such as Canada, USA, Australia and South Africa all featured highly too. Of particular concern to the WHO is the increase in alcohol consumption in areas where is has not traditionally been an issue – China and India are both emerging economies and it seems emerging drinkers too.

Based on these findings it is estimated that on average, every person above the age of 15 worldwide drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol in a year.

Food for thought when reaching for a glass of wine tonight…

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