Worldwide alcohol consumption is on the increase and Ireland has one of the highest per capita consumption rates in Europe. According to a new modelling study in The Lancet, 84% of Irish adults drink alcohol, and this percentage is projected to increase by 2030.

The study, which tracks global alcohol intake between 1990 and 2017, warns that worldwide alcohol consumption is on the increase, and that targets to reduce harmful use will likely be missed. The total volume of alcohol consumed globally each year has gone up by 70%: from 20,999 million litres in 1990 to 35,676 million litres in 2017. This is attributed to increased alcohol consumption combined with population growth.

The study estimates that by 2030 half of all adults will drink alcohol, and almost a quarter (23%) will binge drink at least once a month.

Ireland’s drinking on the rise

In Ireland, total per capita alcohol consumption increased from 12.33 litres of pure alcohol per adult in a year to 13.19 litres between 2010–2017. The percentage of adults who commit to lifetime abstinence dropped from 11% to 9%.

Projections to 2030 estimate that per capita consumption will drop slightly and the percentage of the population that drinks alcohol will rise to 86%.

Commenting on the findings, study author Jakob Manthey, from TU Dresden in Germany, said, based on the data, the WHO’s aims of reducing the harmful use of alcohol by 10% by 2025 would not be reached globally.

“Instead, alcohol use will remain one of the leading risk factors for the burden of disease for the foreseeable future, and its impact will probably increase relative to other risk factors”, he said.

Uptake in Asia increases significantly

The leading cause of the increases in alcohol consumption is a rise in intake in low- and middle-income countries. Since 1990, consumption has risen significantly in China, India and Vietnam. As a whole, consumption increased by 34% in southeast Asia between 2010 and 2017. Implementing effective alcohol policies is warranted, especially in developing countries which are showing increasing rates of alcohol use, says the study.

Traditionally, European countries always had the highest level of alcohol consumption, but this has been changing over the last three decades. By 2030, Europe is forecast to no longer have the highest level of consumption. Moldova has the highest alcohol intake (15 litres per adult per year), and Kuwait has the lowest (0.005 litres per person per year).

In African, American and Eastern Mediterranean regions, intake levels remained similar between 2010–2017.

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