Although alcohol consumption in Europe has declined between 2010 and 2017, the continent still leads the world in volume of alcohol consumption. A global study of 147 countries conducted by the Technische Universität Dresden and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, and published in The Lancet journal, found that alcohol consumption decreased by 12% in Europe since 2010: from 11.2 liters to 9.8 liters. In Eastern Europe, intake has dropped even more sharply.
The study’s most alarming findings came at the global level: the volume of alcohol imbibed rose by as much as 70% between 1990 and 2017.
But the findings were quite diverse from continent to continent. Intake increased marginally in the US (9.3 litres to 9.8 litres), and from 7.1 litres to 7.4 litres in China. But Southeast Asia is another story. Although total consumption there per person is much less – 4.7 litres a year – it has grown by a full 104% between 1990 and 2017, and by 34% since 2010.
The study "provides a comprehensive overview of the changing landscape in global alcohol exposure," explains study author Jakob Manthey of the Technische Universität Dresden.
The study also came with predictions based on its data, namely that the percentage of people consuming alcohol globally is projected to increase from 45% to 50% by 2030.
Germany has one of the world's highest alcohol rates with nearly12 litres per capita per year.
Moreover, there appears to be large discrepancies between genders: Central European women drink less than one third of the amount of alcohol consumed by men.
A 2019 World Health Organization study of 30 European countries (the EU, Switzerland, and the Nordics) came to similarly unsettling conclusions: “The monitoring of changes in alcohol consumption, harm to health and development of public health policy are priorities for both the European Commission and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.”
The level of drinking in Europe is four times as high for men than women, it ascertained. The current average volume of annual drinking is 15.7 litres of pure alcohol. Binge drinking is a serious problem. More than 30% of people report having consumed more than 60g of pure alcohol at one time in the last month. Again, this kind of drinking is particularly problematic among men -- 47% have done so -- in contrast to women: 14%. It is most common in the Czech Republic, the Baltic countries, and Luxembourg, found the WHO study.
The WHO survey includes valuable Alcohol Country Fact Sheets, which included a survey and evaluation of alcohol polities in each nation, for all of the countries studied.