Who is Europe’s biggest drinkers, and how many deaths are attributed to alcohol?

Whether you love it or hate it, alcohol is a huge part of modern day society. There has long been concerns from health professionals regarding the consumption of alcohol, and more importantly, the extent to which people drink it. In Europe, there are no typical guidelines on alcohol consumption that all countries are required to align themselves to. For example, in 2016 Britain lowered the recommended levels for men to 14 units a week (which is the same as women), but in Spain the guidelines state that men should intake no more than 35 units. There is clear disparity here. To put these guidelines into perspective, a lower-strength pint of larger contains 2 units of alcohol. According to the World Health Organisation, 3.3 million deaths worldwide per year, are attributed to alcohol, which equates to around 5.9% of annual deaths. In addition to this, alcohol is also responsible for up to 200 disease and injury conditions. If the previous stats were not staggering enough, 25% of deaths suffered by individuals aged 20-39, are related to alcohol. Yes – that is one in every four deaths.

Alcohol is clearly a silent killer worldwide, but particularly in European countries. The facts don’t lie, Europeans are the world’s biggest drinkers. So, why is this the case? In the global alcohol market, Europe undoubtedly plays a major role. The continent on its own produces a quarter of the world’s alcohol and, astoundingly, over half of the planet’s wine. Furthermore 70% of alcohol exports and just under half of the world’s imports, involve the European Union (EU). 

The aim of the data represented is to show that countries with a higher alcohol consumption rate have a higher alcohol death rate. The highest and lowest five alcohol consuming countries have been taken from the London South Bank University alcohol dataset for 2014. Data for the UK has also been added, to give an indication of how the data reflects on other countries. In the scattergraph displayed, the consumption rate of pure alcohol drunk per person over the age of 15 is shown, as is the alcohol death rate per 100,000 of the population for each of the countries. 

The data recorded shows that typically alcohol consumption rates are higher in Central and Eastern Europe, as apposed to the rest of Europe. A graph of Europe is shown, in order to display where each of the countries are situated geographically. Stats from the European Commission suggest that people who live in the Eastern part of Europe, are seven times more likely to die from an alcohol related cause than people from the Mediterranean part, and almost three times as likely as the whole European region combined. What is the reasoning behind this, you ask? Well, this is largely attributed to labor productivity, a lack of regulatory measures and incredibly low prices of alcohol. In Prague (Czech Republic), the average cost of a pint beer is £1.26, whereas in London (United Kingdom), the average cost of a beer is £3.95. But don’t worry, at least you know it’s a safe pint.  

About the Author

James Murray

James Murray

James Murray – Sports fanatic; aspiring journalist studying at London South Bank University.