Science

Excessive alcohol consumption loses 1 year of life expectancy on average

Excessive alcohol consumption causes people in 52 countries to lose on average nearly a year of life expectancy, due to the illnesses and accidents it causes, shows an OECD report published on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 The international organization therefore encourages countries to “redouble efforts to fight against” this phenomenon, in particular by limiting the promotion of alcohol to children and by encouraging higher prices.

“Life expectancy will be almost a year (0.9) lower over the next 30 years due to illness and injury” caused by “harmful consumption of alcohol”, calculates the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in this report, which covers 52 countries from the OECD, the European Union and the Group of 20 (G20).

In a supermarket in Moscow on April 24, 2020 (AFP / Archives – Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Lithuania, Russia and Poland top the rankings

The eight most affected countries are all in Central and Eastern Europe, with 1.4 to 1.8 years less life expectancy, with Lithuania, Russia and Poland leading the rankings. France is just above the average, while Turkey and Israel appear to be the least concerned.

There is no level of alcohol consumption scientifically recognized as safe for health. For the purposes of this report, the OECD defines “harmful alcohol consumption” as exceeding “a lower risk threshold” set at “more than one drink of alcohol per day for women and 1.5 drinks for women. men”.

The results are obtained by comparing life expectancy in 2050 if current consumption habits persist with a scenario where consumption does not exceed this “lower risk threshold”.

2.4% of total health expenditure

The OECD also puts the burden at 2.4% of total health spending and estimates that GDP will be 1.6% lower on average every year in OECD countries over the next 30 years if things are do not change. The data in this report predates the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a survey conducted in May and June 2020 in 11 countries, while 42% of people say they have not changed their alcohol consumption, 36% believe they have increased it while only 22% say they have reduced it. “Women, parents of young children, those with higher incomes and those with symptoms of depression and anxiety” are those who “reported the largest increases in alcohol consumption.”

According to the organization, “the most effective strategy” to fight against harmful alcohol consumption goes through “limit the promotion of alcohol to children”, “strengthen police checks to prevent road accidents due to alcohol”, “develop the offer of consultations for patients at risk” and “set pricing policies to limit the affordability of alcohol”.

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