Global health officials and medical professionals have sounded the alarm that global alcohol consumption continues to increase. Per capita levels of alcohol consumption have increased significantly over the past 30 years, and the trend is set to continue increasing over the next few decades as well.
Perhaps most interesting is the finding that alcohol consumption in high-income countries is largely unchanged or decreasing but that consumption in low- and middle-income countries has increased by huge amounts. Part of the reason for that increase may be that large numbers of people in countries such as China and India are now able to afford alcohol, including imports from the West, and have changed their consumption patterns to more closely imitate well-to-do Westerners.
Overall alcohol consumption in Europe has declined since 2010, from 11.2 liters of pure alcohol per capita to 9.8 liters, while consumption in Southeast Asia increased from 3.5 liters to 4.7 liters, or nearly 35%. US and Chinese consumption increased moderately, from 9.3 to 9.8 liters and from 7.1 to 7.4 liters respectively. Worldwide per capita consumption is expected to rise from 5.9 liters in 1990 to 7.6 liters by 2030, an increase of nearly 30%.
While excessive alcohol consumption and chronic overuse of alcohol can lead to a number of health problems, alcohol in moderation has been shown to have some health benefits. The increasing publication of some of those health benefits may play a role too in increasing alcohol consumption among some people, as they view the benefits of an occasional glass of wine or beer as outweighing any negative health consequences that may result.
What very clearly is a problem is binge drinking, which 23% of adults worldwide engage in every month. If that behavior isn’t stopped it can lead to numerous health ailments. So while world health officials may have a goal of reducing alcohol consumption in the future, given current trends that appears to be highly unlikely to occur.