A new report from the World Health Organization outlines some sobering statistics on the global toll of alcohol consumption.
- The report indicates that the 'harmful use' of alcohol leads to about six deaths per minute.
- Poorer countries tend to see higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and injuries.
- The WHO suggests deaths can be prevented through policies that restrict pricing, marketing, consumption and other factors.
Alcohol is responsible for 5 percent of all deaths worldwide, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO). The report, which used global data for 2016, includes some sobering statistics. The 'harmful use' of alcohol leads to about 3 million deaths annually — about six every minute — and the vast majority of those deaths, 2.3 million, are suffered by men. Among people ages 20 to 39, alcohol is responsible for about 13.5 percent of all deaths.
The report also indicates:
- There is a causal relationship between harmful use of alcohol and a range of mental and behavioral disorders, other noncommunicable conditions as well as injuries.
- The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions.
- The latest causal relationships have been established between harmful drinking and incidence of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as well as the course of HIV/AIDS.
- Beyond health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol brings significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large.
- Globally, alcohol is linked to 7.7 percent of all deaths among men, but just 2.6 percent of all deaths among women.
- Europe showed the highest levels of alcohol consumption, though Africa reported the highest levels of alcohol-related injuries and diseases.
- Globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women have alcohol-use disorders, mostly in Europe (14.8 percent and 3.5 percent) and the Americas (11.5 percent and 5.1 percent).
Governments aren't implementing effective policies
WHO alcohol-control expert, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, told The Guardian that the health burden of alcohol was "unacceptably large."
"Unfortunately, the implementation of the most effective policy options is lagging behind the magnitude of the problems," he said. "Governments need to do more to meet the global targets and to reduce the burden of alcohol on societies; this is clear, and this action is either absent or not sufficient in most of the countries of the world."
Although the levels of harm caused by alcohol largely depend on factors both individual (age, socioeconomic status, gender) and societal (culture, alcohol laws), the report suggests that governments can curb alcohol-related deaths and injuries by:
- regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages (in particular to younger people)
- regulating and restricting the availability of alcohol
- enacting appropriate drink-driving policies
- reducing demand through taxation and pricing mechanisms
- raising awareness of public health problems caused by harmful use of alcohol and ensuring support for effective alcohol policies
- providing accessible and affordable treatment for people with alcohol-use disorders, and
- implementing screening and brief interventions programmes for hazardous and harmful drinking in health services.
"Now the task we share is to help countries put in place policies that make a real and measurable difference in people's lives," wrote Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO. "We have no time to waste; it is time to deliver on alcohol control."
"Alcohol poses dire ramifications for future population health in the absence of policy action today. Our results indicate that alcohol use and its harmful effects on health could become a growing challenge as countries become more developed, and enacting or maintaining strong alcohol control policies will be vital," Emmanuela Gakidou, the report's senior author, told The Guardian.
A new study suggests that older couples may help their marriages by drinking together.
Almost half the wine consumed in the U.S is consumed by millennials, according to recent research. In 2015, the 79 million Americans ages 21 to 38 drank 159.6 million cases of wine. As a relaxant and social lubricant, it’s obviously a pretty popular way to go, and that’s just wine. As young people couple off, alcohol can work for and against the relationship, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed and whether or not both partners are drinking similarly. But what happens over time to couples? Baby boomers are finding out, and so did a new study published in the Journals of Gerontology.
The elderly are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and it’s a drinking crowd, many having switched over the years to alcohol as a legal intoxication option. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that people over 65 are more frequently found to be binge drinkers. Boomers may also require less alcohol to get drunk because it’s metabolized more slowly in the elderly, meaning there is a higher percentage of alcohol in the blood compared to a younger drinker.
About the New Research
The new study looked at negative marital quality, since there’s a clearer link between marital trouble and health problems than there is between positive marital quality and positive health.
Researchers interviewed 4864 husbands and wives. The men ranged from 52-92, with an average age of 64. The women were at an average age of 63, being anywhere from 52-88.
The subjects were a bit more homogenous than the general population. Roughly two-thirds of them were in their first marriage. They all had similar (though obviously not identical) alcohol consumption, similar negative marital quality as well as other comparable variables including education, years married, race, and number of children.
Subjects responded to self-administered psychosocial questionnaires (SAQ) in four waves, each of which collected responses from half the subjects. Thus, the responses from 2006 and 2008 were treated as Wave 1 since together they accounted for 100% of the respondents, and Wave 2 was the combined 2010 and 2012 SAQs using the same logic. In this way, every subject was questioned exactly twice, years apart.
In Wave 1, the idea was to identify drinking habits and assess subjects’ current negative marital quality as a baseline.
Researchers asked people about their drinking:
62% of respondents were drinkers, and 38% not, about the same as the general population. In 45% of the couples, both members drank, in 29% no one drank, in 17% it was just the husband, and in 8% it was only the wife.
To ascertain their negative marital quality, their were interviewed with a commonly used and well-validated set of questions:
Their answers to both sets of questions were converted into numerical values for analysis.
In Wave 2, the subjects were again assessed for negative marital quality to see how things had changed, based on the assumption that drinking habits had remained constant and that it was the driver of increases or decreases in negative marital quality.
First off, unlike with studies of younger couples, the frequency and amount of alcohol consumption wasn’t a reliable predictor of changes in marriages. What was significant was the degree to which a couple’s drinking was:
The three biggest takeaways from the study were:
Suggestions for Millennials
So, young millennials in love, here are the rules: