alcohol header burden americas

September 2018

Alcohol is causally linked to over 200 health conditions, including liver diseases, road injuries, violence, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, suicides, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Its impact is detrimental in every country in the Region; the less developed a country is, the higher the relative burden of alcohol. But where consumption is highest, the burden of disease and injury is heaviest. The Region of the Americas ranks as the second highest in consumption and in burden of alcohol, after the European Region. Alcohol consumption is expected to increase if the most effective policies are not implemented.

In 2016

  • Alcohol was responsible for 5.5% of all deaths in the Americas, and 6.7% of all disability-adjusted life years.
  • 54% of the total population are current drinkers, 29% are life abstainers, and 17% are former drinkers.
  • Fewer people are drinking now, but those who do are drinking more.
  • Annual per capita consumption among people over 15 years of age was 8.0 liters.
  • Annual per capita consumption among DRINKERS was 15.1 liters
    • On average, each drinker has 2.3 drinks* every day of the year. Among male drinkers, the average is 4.3 drinks daily. Among women, it is 1.4 drinks per day every day of the year.
  • 40.5% of all current drinkers are HEAVY EPISODIC DRINKERS (they drink at least 5 drinks per occasion at least monthly).
    • 21.3% of the total population over 15 years old are heavy episodic drinkers.
    • 18.3% of adolescents aged 15-19 years are heavy episodic drinkers.
  • 8.2% of the general population over 15 years old has an ALCOHOL USE DISORDER:
    • 5.1% of women >>> THE HIGHEST PREVALENCE IN THE WORLD (COMPARED TO ALL OTHER WHO REGIONS)
    • 11.5% of men>>> THE SECOND HIGHEST PREVALENCE IN THE WORLD (HIGHEST IS IN THE EUROPEAN REGION)

*One drink is equivalent to a can of beer (355 ml), a glass of wine (150 ml) or a shot of distilled spirits (40 ml).

THE MOST COST-EFFECTIVE POLICIES ARE NOT BEING WIDELY IMPLEMENTED IN THE AMERICAS

  • 5/35 countries have physical restrictions on the availability of alcohol (days, places, density of outlets, sales to minors enforced).
  • 12/35 countries have blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits at or below 0.05% for the general population.
  • 2/35 countries reported substantial or high coverage of treatment for alcohol dependence; most do not know treatment coverage.
  • 1/35 countries have comprehensive marketing restrictions.
  • 8/35 countries have excise taxes adjusted for inflation.