Page last updated: April 24, 2015

Chinese are the world’s third biggest drinkers

A study published in the Lancet, highlights that in the past three decades, along with rapid economic growth in China, there has been a striking increase in alcohol consumption, greater than in most other parts of the world . Although the population drinking level in china used to be far lower than in many highincome and middle-income countries, per capita
alcohol consumption has risen from 2·5 l in 1978 to 6·7 l in 2010.

The report states however that more than half of the Chinese population aged 15 years and older are alcohol abstainers—42% of men and 71% of women in 2010, so the alcohol consumption level of those who actually drink was 15·1 l in 2010, which is higher than the equivalent figure in the UK, the US, Sweden, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. There is also a great disparity in alcohol consumption and rates of dependence between the sexes: the rates of alcohol use disorder are 9·3% among men and 0·2% among women, with the male-to-female ratio of 47:1 being substantially higher than in most other countries in the world. The global burden of disease study 2010 revealed that alcohol use was ranked as the sixth greatest risk factor for men in china in terms of attributable disabilityadjusted life-years (DALYs) lost, contributing to more than 310000 deaths and 13·8 million DALYs among men each year. The report argues that ‘given the dramatic increase in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related social and health problems in China, both policy attention and policy and cultural changes are needed’. A first stepforward would be to establish a public- health-oriented commission or agency charged specifically with developing controls over the alcohol market and a strategy for reducing levels of alcohol consumption and problems, drawing on the strategies agreed on in the WHO Global Strategy for Reducing Harmful Use of Alcohol.

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