UK in ‘premier league’ for binge-drinking, says landmark European report

UK adults and adolescents are among the top binge-drinkers in Europe, according to the first-ever comprehensive EU-wide report on alcohol released this Thursday.  

The report, funded by the European Commission and written by the UK-based Institute of Alcohol Studies, shows that:

  • The UK are one of the top bingeing nations in western
    Europe, binge-drinking 28 times per year on average – about once every
    13 days. 
  • UK adolescents are also the third-worst binge-drinkers in
    the EU, with more than a quarter 15-16 olds binge-drinking 3-or-more
    times in the last month.

Yet the main message of the report – commissioned to provide
the evidence base for the EU’s alcohol strategy due later this year – is
the scale of alcohol-related harm across the EU:

  • Alcohol is public health enemy #3, behind only tobacco and
    high blood pressure, and ahead of obesity, lack of exercise or illicit
    drugs. 
  • Many people suffer due to someone else’s drinking –
    including 5-9 million children living in families damaged by alcohol and
    the 10,000 ‘innocent’ deaths that occur to bystanders or passengers
    from drink-drivers. 
  • Alcohol is also estimated to cost Europe €125 billion – equivalent to over €650 for every household each year.  

The report concludes with a series of 52 recommendations in
areas ranging as widely from taxation to education to research, setting
out the areas that the scientific evidence suggests the Commission
should act on in its forthcoming strategy.   

– Professor Christine Godfrey, Professor of Health Economics at the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York, said:

“This is the best estimate yet conducted showing the scale of
the social costs of alcohol in Europe.  But more importantly, the report
shows that cost-effective polices are available, and that predictions
of catastrophic job losses for implementing effective policies are much
overstated.”

– Dr Anderson, lead author of the report and international public health expert, said:

“What really makes the need for action so urgent is that we
know ‘what works’ in reducing this toll.  What we now need is just to
get on with it.”

Download the rest of this media pack which includes: (pdf 46kb)

1.   Other key findings from the UK and Europe

2.   Notes to editors

3.   About the authors