Belarus ranked first in the world in terms of per capita alcohol consumption in a report unveiled by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Worldwide, 3.3 million deaths in 2012 were due to harmful use of alcohol, says a new report launched by WHO on May 12. Alcohol consumption can not only lead to dependence but also increases people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases including liver cirrhosis and some cancers. In addition, harmful drinking can lead to violence and injuries.
The report also finds that harmful use of alcohol makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.
On average every person in the world aged 15 years or older drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year. But as less than half the population (38.3%) actually drinks alcohol, this means that those who do drink consume on average 17 litres of pure alcohol annually.
The report also points to the fact that a higher percentage of deaths among men than among women are from alcohol-related causes – 7.6% of men’s deaths and 4% of women’s deaths – though there is evidence that women may be more vulnerable to some alcohol-related health conditions compared to men. In addition, the authors note that there is concern over the steady increase in alcohol use among women.
Belarus topped the list with an annual per capita consumption of 17.5 litres of alcohol, followed by Moldova with 16.8 litres, Lithuania with 15.4 litres and Russia with 15.1 litres.
Globally, Europe is the region with the highest consumption of alcohol per capita, with some of its countries having particularly high consumption rates. Trend analysis shows that the consumption level is stable over the last 5 years in the region, as well as in Africa and the Americas, though increases have been reported in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific regions.
The annual per capita consumption was 12.5 litres in Poland, 12.3 litres in Latvia, 13.9 litres in Ukraine, 10.3 litres in Estonia, 7.7 litres in Georgia, 11.8 litres in Germany, 11.6 litres in the UK and 9.2 litres in the United States.
According to the report, Belarus’ men consume 27.5 litres of alcohol on average every year, while women’s per capita consumption is 9.1 litres.
Through a global network, WHO is supporting countries in their development and implementation of policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. The need for intensified action was endorsed in the landmark 2011 United Nations General Assembly meeting, which identified alcohol as one of four common risk factors contributing to the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) epidemic.
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