alcohol or more on a single occasion in the past month. This is higher than the average rate of 36 per cent among the 33 countries analyzed by the OECD. Only men from Denmark (47 per cent) and Luxembourg (46 per cent) reported higher rates of binge drinking.
The OECD’s report, titled ‘Health at a Glance 2023,’ highlights the health risks associated with alcohol consumption. These risks include heart disease, strokes, liver cirrhosis, and certain cancers. The report emphasizes the need for effective measures to address the issue of binge drinking.
The data also reveals significant variations in alcohol consumption across different countries. In 2019, nearly one in five adults across 29 OECD countries reported binge drinking at least once a month. The figures ranged from less than 3 per cent in Turkey to more than 30 per cent in Germany, Luxembourg, the UK, and Denmark.
The OECD measured alcohol consumption per country through sales data. On average, people consumed 8.6 liters of alcohol in 2021. However, there were significant variations in intake levels. Latvia and Lithuania had the highest consumption rates, with more than 12 liters per person. In contrast, Turkey, Costa Rica, Israel, and Columbia had consumption rates of fewer than five liters per person. The UK consumed 10 liters, while the US consumed 9.5 liters.
It is concerning that British women have the highest rate of binge drinking among developed countries. Approximately one in four women in the UK admit to consuming six or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion. This is double the average rate among the countries analyzed by the OECD. Experts attribute this trend to a ‘ladette’ and ‘wine o’clock’ culture prevalent in British society.
The report’s findings highlight the urgent need for interventions to address binge drinking in the UK. Public health campaigns and policies should focus on raising awareness about the health risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Additionally, efforts should be made to challenge and change the cultural norms that contribute to binge drinking behaviors.
In conclusion, the OECD’s report sheds light on the high prevalence of binge drinking in the UK, particularly among women. The data underscores the importance of implementing effective strategies to reduce alcohol consumption and promote healthier drinking habits.The latest figures show that only 28 percent of adults in the UK have not consumed pure ethanol in the past 30 days, which puts them behind Romania (55 percent) and Denmark (49 percent), but compares to the international average of 27 percent. John Britton, an addictions expert and emeritus professor at the University of Nottingham, expressed concern over these statistics, stating that harm is happening right in front of us because alcohol is deeply ingrained in British society and everyday life, similar to how tobacco used to be. He also noted that in other countries, alcohol is used as a social lubricant to enhance social occasions, rather than as a means to get excessively drunk as it often is in the UK. Britton further emphasized that many people turn to alcohol to unwind after a stressful day at work, when they should be seeking healthier alternatives.
The latest data reveals that in 2021, Britons consumed the equivalent of 10 liters of pure ethanol each, which is approximately 111 bottles of wine. This is an increase from 9.9 liters in 2011.
It is worth noting that only one in seven adults reported consuming five or more portions of fruits and vegetables per day, as recommended by the World Health Organization. The highest percentage was observed in the UK and Ireland, with over 30 percent, while the lowest percentages were found in Turkey and Romania, with fewer than five percent.
Additionally, in 2019, only four in 10 adults engaged in at least 150 minutes of non-work-related moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, on average across 32 OECD countries. The percentage varied greatly, ranging from 10 percent or less in Turkey and Romania to over 60 percent in Switzerland, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, and the UK.In almost all OECD countries, more than half of adults were overweight or obese. In 2021, the average percentage of overweight adults was 54%, while the average percentage of obese adults was 18%. The countries with the lowest obesity rates were Korea (4%), while the highest rates were found in Chile (41%) and the US (34%).
According to OECD data, 15.9% of individuals over the age of 15 smoked tobacco daily in 2021. Smoking rates varied across countries, with rates exceeding 25% in France and Turkey, and falling below 10% in Iceland and Norway.
While smoking rates are declining in most countries, vaping is becoming more prevalent, as indicated by OECD data. On average, 3.2% of individuals over the age of 15 regularly vaped. Estonia and New Zealand had the highest rates of vaping, with over 8% of individuals participating, while Sweden, Chile, and Austria had rates below 1%.
The OECD also provided data on alcohol consumption, revealing that people in Latvia consumed the most alcohol at 12.2 liters, while Indonesia had the lowest consumption at 0.1 liters. The average alcohol consumption across OECD countries was 8.6 liters.
Dr. Rachel Orritt, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, emphasized that alcohol consumption is linked to seven different types of cancer. While drinking alcohol does not guarantee the development of cancer, the risk increases with higher levels of alcohol consumption.Cutting down on alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of harm, regardless of people’s drinking habits. Dr Richard Piper, the chief executive of Alcohol Change UK, emphasizes that the harm caused by alcohol in the UK is avoidable. He calls for the government to implement measures such as stricter controls on alcohol marketing, minimum unit pricing, and clearer alcohol labeling to reduce harm and save lives. The OECD report highlights that the UK spends more on healthcare but has fewer hospital beds, scanners, and lower nurse salaries compared to similar countries. Additionally, the UK has a higher obesity rate and a higher prevalence of regular vaping compared to the OECD average. The article also introduces the AUDIT, a widely used screening tool for alcohol abuse. Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the 10-question test helps determine if someone has alcohol abuse problems. The article provides instructions on how to complete the test and interpret the scores, indicating the level of risk associated with alcohol consumption.If you are under the age of 20, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with alcohol consumption. It is recommended that you speak to your GP or a counsellor for guidance and support.
For individuals who are 20 years old and above, it is possible that you may already be dependent on alcohol if it is causing problems in your life. It is advisable to consider gradually reducing or stopping your drinking altogether. Seeking professional help is recommended in order to determine the extent of your dependence and to find the safest way to withdraw from alcohol.
In cases of severe dependence, medically assisted withdrawal or detox may be necessary. This can be done in a hospital or a specialist clinic. The reason for this is the high likelihood of experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms within the first 48 hours, which require specialized treatment.
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