European Alcohol Profiles

The image above is taken from the by The Prime Minister’s Office Flickr Stream and gives some context to what is to follow.

The World Health Organisation have produced alcohol profiles for countries in the region.  As you’ll see they’re focused on adult drinking, but hold some interesting data.

Looking at the UK figures the first thing that jumps out is that adults drink 13.4 litres of pure alcohol per person per year.  That’s

an additional 1.2 litres of pure alcohol per person than the average European – and as that includes Russia and other Eastern European countries I suspect the average would be considerably lower if we were to just look at Western Europe.

If I’ve done my maths right* that means that this means that every one over the age of 16 drinks 42.2 pints of larger (5% abv) more than our continental cousins over the course of a year.

There are about 49,619,840 of us over the age of 16.  So that’s 2,093,957,248 extra pints as a nation.  Or, if you’re more of a wine person that’s the equivalent of 610,324,032 extra bottles of wine.

There are also some interesting difference between men and women.  Men who drink are putting away an average of 21.58 litres of pure alcohol a head per year (or if you’d rather 999 pints of pale ale (3.8% abv)), while women drinkers are much more abstemious drinking 9.46 litres (or 860 bottles of alcopops (4% abv)) over the course of a year.

Another interesting part of the briefing is the estimated social costs of alcohol – from which they’ve excluded Northern Ireland for some reason.  They calculate the figures in US dollars and I’ve taken a conversion rate of $1 to £0.6237.

WHO say that the total social costs that we bear as a result of our alcohol consumption comes out at about $32 bn (which comes to about £20 bn).

They break this down a little so we see that about $3.5 bn (£2.2 bn) of the total comes from the health budget, and $12.2 bn (£7.6 bn) being spent in criminal justice expenditure.

The rest comes from what they call direct and indirect costs – unfortunately they don’t seem to define what those costs might be.

* 10 ml of pure alcohol = 1 unit, so 1.2 lt of pure alcohol = 120 units

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