A recent global study on alcohol consumption has uncovered some unexpected statistics regarding binge drinking. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD), Denmark claims the top spot for binge drinking, with Romania coming in second place, and Britain in third.
The study, which analyzed data from 29 countries, found that nearly 19% of adults reported engaging in heavy episodic drinking at least once a month in 2019. This behavior was defined as consuming at least six drinks in a single session. The prevalence of binge drinking varied significantly among countries, ranging from less than 3% in Turkey and Italy to over 30% in Germany, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Romania.
The study also identified significant changes in binge drinking patterns between 2011 and 2021. Drinking had decreased in 23 countries during this period, with Lithuania and Ireland experiencing the most substantial reductions. In contrast, Latvia, Mexico, and Norway witnessed the most significant increases in binge drinking.
Men were more likely to engage in heavy episodic drinking, with around 26% of men in all countries reporting this behavior compared to 12% of women. Romania had the highest rate, with approximately 55% of men admitting to binge drinking, followed by Denmark at just under 50%, and Luxembourg at around 46%. Notably, Russia was not included in the study due to its non-membership in the OECD.
The study revealed that, across all countries, men consistently drank more heavily than women. Norway and the United States showed the most similar rates of binge drinking between genders, with Spain, Greece, Italy, and Turkey ranking as the lowest in terms of binge drinking.
The OECD emphasized the need for addressing harmful alcohol use as a leading cause of death and disability, particularly among working-age populations, with a high risk of heart disease and stroke. The study recommended policies to combat binge drinking, including minimum unit pricing and warning labels similar to those used on cigarettes, which have been effective in Ireland and Scotland.
Ireland's implementation of "population-wide" labeling was identified as a key factor in reducing alcohol consumption in the country. Photo by Nicubunu, Wikimedia commons.