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Tuesday 22 October 2019

A sobering thought - Irish women among world's heaviest drinkers

Irish women have been ranked as heavy drinkers (pic posed)
Irish women have been ranked as heavy drinkers (pic posed)

Irish women are ranked among the heaviest female drinkers in the world with a big fall in teetotallers, a global report has revealed.

They are fourth in a league table of 189 countries, outpaced only by the drinking habits of women in Lithuania, Moldova and Czechia.

Ireland, overall, retains its reputation as a country of heavy boozers, coming in at fifth in the world rankings with adults consuming more than 13 litres of alcohol a year.

The sobering comparisons have emerged in a study in The Lancet medical journal, showing that globally alcohol intake increased from 5.9 litres a year per adult in 1990, to 6.5 litres in 2017 - and it is predicted to rise further to 7.6 litres by 2030.

The world is not on track to achieve global targets to reduce harmful alcohol use.

The authors called for effective policy measures, such as the WHO 'best-buys' including increasing taxation, restricting availability, and banning alcohol marketing and advertising, to be introduced globally.

The new study by Jakob Manthey, from TU Dresden, and Dr Jurgen Rehm, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, measured per capita alcohol consumption using data for 189 countries between 1990-2017 .

Statistics relating to Ireland show the number of non-drinkers among women fell from 26pc in 1990 to 13pc in 2017.

Abuse

Binge drinking - described as "heavy episodic drinking" which was defined as drinking six or more drinks at least once a month - has already increased by 20pc since 1990 in both men and women.

The figures reveal that one in three Irish adults were classed as binge drinkers in 1990, while the number is currently four out of 10 or 40pc and is expected to rise by another 2pc by 2030.

While Irish drinking rates are forecast as likely to remain stable up to 2030, they will not show any significant fall either, despite the many public health messages about alcohol abuse.

The study estimated that globally, by 2030, half of all adults will drink alcohol, and almost a quarter will binge drink at least once a month.

Alcohol is a major risk factor for disease, and is causally linked to more than 200 diseases, in particular non-communicable diseases and injuries.

The report found that, globally, alcohol intake increased from 5.9 litres pure alcohol a year per adult in 1990, to 6.5 litres in 2017, and is predicted to increase further to 7.6 litres by 2030.

The Irish rate of alcohol intake is double the global rate at 13.1 litres in 2017 - which is slightly down from 13.5 litres in 1990.

This is defined by the study as two 360ml beers per day per adult.

In 2017, the lowest alcohol intakes were in North African and Middle Eastern countries, with typically less than one litre per adult per year.

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