Worldwide, Europe has been considered the region with the highest rate of alcohol consumption per capita. However, European countries including the UK and France failed to match the United States’ affinity for beer as of 2010. A report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) Monday has revealed that Americans' beer consumption at 4.28 liters per person is respectable but still pales in comparison to heavy beer drinking countries like Belgium and the Czech Republic.
The WHO’s "Global status report on alcohol and health 2014" has provided alcohol consumption profiles for 194 countries. Although America’s beer consumption rate among people over the age of 15 placed it among the top 20 beer drinking countries, other countries such as Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Serbia, Venezuela, and Estonia led the way at over five liters of beer per person.
Among countries with the highest rate of alcohol consumption per capita across all beverage types including beer, wine, and spirits, Andorra, Belarus, and the Czech Republic ranked highest at more than 12.5 liters per person over the age of 15. Grenada, Ireland, Estonia, and Luxembourg trailed close behind with scores ranging from 11.36 to 12.4 liters per person. Rates of overall alcohol consumption in the U.S. ranked low among major countries at 8.55 liters per person.
America, like many other countries around the world, has taken certain steps to curb the amount of heavy drinking done by its citizens, including an increase on alcohol taxes, raising the legal drinking age, and regulating alcohol marketing. According to the WHO’s report, heavy alcohol consumption can increase a person’s risk of developing over 200 diseases, and the harmful use of alcohol helped contribute to 3.3 million global deaths in 2012.
“More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption,” WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, Dr. Oleg Chestnov, said in a statement. “The report clearly shows that there is no room for complacency when it comes to reducing the harmful use of alcohol.”