Grenada holds the unenviable position of having the highest rate per capita of yearly alcohol consumption in the Americas. With an average consumption of 12.5 litres of pure alcohol per person per year, Grenada tops St Lucia 10.4 litres, Canada 10.2 litres, Chile 9.6 litres, Argentina 9.3 litres and United States 9.2 litres.
This was among findings in the latest report launched by World Health Organization (WHO) released on Monday. The report claimed that worldwide, 3.3 million people died in 2012 due to harmful use of alcohol, while harmful use of alcohol makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. The Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014 provides country profiles for alcohol consumption in the 194 WHO Member States, the impact on public health, and policy responses.
The report said that on average, people in the Americas consume 8.4 litres of pure alcohol per capita per year, second among WHO regions after Europe, where people consume 10.9 litres per year. The Region of the Americas has the second highest per capita alcohol consumption among WHO regions, after Europe. It also has the second highest (after Europe) rates of heavy episodic drinking, a drinking pattern associated with harmful effects on health. In addition, the region has the lowest rate of lifetime abstention from alcohol use.
22% of drinkers in the Americas engage in heavy episodic drinking (consuming about 6 standard drinks on a single occasion once a month or more). Globally, 16% of drinkers drink this way.
The Americas region has the lowest proportion 18.9%, of people who have never consumed alcohol. Globally, 48% of people are lifetime abstainers. In the Americas, beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage, contributing 55.3% of total alcohol consumed.
Wine accounts for one-ninth of total alcohol consumption in the Americas, due mostly to the high wine consumption in Argentina and Chile. Countries in the Americas with the lowest per capita consumption are El Salvador (3.2 litres per year), Guatemala (3.8), Honduras (4), Jamaica (4.9), Nicaragua (5) and Cuba (5.2).
On average every person in the world aged 15 years or older drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year. But as less than half the population (38.3%) actually drinks alcohol, this means that those who do drink, consume on average 17 litres of pure alcohol annually.
The report also points to the fact that a higher percentage of men (7.6%), than women (4%), die from alcohol-related causes, though there is evidence that women may be more vulnerable to alcohol-related harm as compared to men. In addition, the authors note that there is concern over the steady increase in alcohol use among women. The Americas has the highest prevalence of alcohol use disorders among females, with an estimated 12.6% of girls and women affected.
Harmful use is defined as drinking that causes detrimental health and social consequences for the drinker, the people around the drinker and society at large, as well as the patterns of drinking that are associated with increased risk of adverse health outcomes.