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Young Germans drinking less alcohol

May 8, 2019

Alcohol consumption is expected to increase 17% over the next decade after rising steadily for the last two, the medical journal Lancet has found. Half of all the world's adults are expected to be drinking by 2030.

An alcoholic drink
Image: Colourbox

The world consumed 10% more alcohol per adult in 2017 than it did in 1990, according to a study published Wednesday in the weekly medical journal The Lancet.

The annual intake of pure alcohol per adult increased from 5.9 liters (12.5 pints) in 1990 to 6.5 liters (13.7 pints) in 2017.

On current trends, researchers predict that global consumption per capita will rise another 17% over the next decade, with half of all adults worldwide drinking alcohol by 2030.

Read more: German addiction study: Alcohol and tobacco use down, but not by much

"The world is not on track to achieve global targets to reduce harmful alcohol use," the study said. The World Health Organization (WHO) goal is to reduce "harmful alcohol use" 10% by 2025.

More drinking in the far east

Researchers attributed the rise to heavier and more widespread drinking in China and India.

In China, according to the study, 77% of the population consumed alcohol at least once in a while in 2017. The Chinese on average drank seven liters of pure alcohol that year, a 70% increase from 1990.

In comparison with China, people in India drank an average of six liters of pure alcohol per person. But that was double the figure for 1990. 

Central and Eastern European countries averaged 12 liters per person.

North Africa and the Middle East had the lowest figures, typically less than one liter per adult per year.

Kids drinking beer
Image: picture alliance/ImageBROKER/S. Kuttig

German youth drinking less

In Germany, a study published on Wednesday by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) found that alcohol consumption among young people was falling.  

According to the BZgA's 2018 Alcohol Survey, just 8.9% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 said they consumed alcohol on a regular basis. This was a dramatic drop from the 21.2% drinking on a regular basis in 2004.

The study looked at around 7,000 young people across Germany from April to June of last year.

Read more: No drink, drugs while driving, says German commissioner

However, the study found that young adults are intoxicated more often.

Around 38% of 18 to 25 year-olds said they had been drunk during the month before the survey. In 2004 43.5% had admitted being intoxicated. The figures for 12 to 17 year-olds has remained relatively unchanged for several years at 13.6%.

Marlene Mortler, Germany's Drug Commissioner, said the figures were encouraging, but the growing trend of intoxication among young adults meant that Germany has to "urgently stay on the ball" when it comes to treatment and education.

"Adulthood does not mean that it is suddenly okay to drink too much alcohol," she said.

dv/jm (AFP, epd, KNA)

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