Alcohol is responsible for more than 5% of all deaths worldwide, or around 3 million a year, new figures have revealed.
The data, part of a report from the World Health Organization, shows that about 2.3 million of those deaths in 2016 were of men, and that almost 29% of all alcohol-caused deaths were down to injuries – including traffic accidents and suicide.
The report, which comes out every four years, reveals the continued impact of alcohol on public health around the world, and highlights that the young bear the brunt: 13.5% of deaths among people in their 20s are linked to booze, with alcohol responsible for 7.2% of premature deaths overall.
It also stresses that harm from drinking is greater among poorer consumers than wealthier ones.
While the proportion of deaths worldwide that have been linked to alcohol has fallen to 5.3% since 2012, when the figure was at 5.9%, experts say the findings make for sobering reading.
A WHO alcohol-control expert, Dr Vladimir Poznyak, who was involved in the report, said the health burden of alcohol was “unacceptably large”. “Unfortunately, the implementation of the most effective policy options is lagging behind the magnitude of the problems,” he said, adding that projections suggested both worldwide alcohol consumption and the related harms were set to rise in the coming years. “Governments need to do more to meet the global targets and to reduce the burden of alcohol on societies; this is clear, and this action is either absent or not sufficient in most of the countries of the world,” said Poznyak.
Poznyak said the latest figures were likely to underestimate the true picture. “Alcohol use starts in many countries well before [age] 15, so that is why we can say that our estimates are quite conservative, because we don’t count at all the impact of alcohol consumption on kids below 15,” he said.