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06/12/2017

European Commission Country Health Profiles 2017

The European Commission’s two-year initiative to provide comprehensive, digestible and accessible information on the State of Health in the EU has concluded. Each of the EU’s 28 Member States is profiled, and below are the summarised top-line points regarding alcohol consumption found in the 'Companion Report 2017'.

Cross-border findings

All 28 of the Country Health Profiles discuss preventable risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and physical inactivity.

Many NCDs share the same behavioural risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. For instance, almost one in five 15-year-olds is obese or overweight and Europe is the region with the highest alcohol consumption in the world

Prevention also comprises both individual healthy behaviours (not smoking, eating healthily, avoiding alcohol, exercising more) and management/political choices that help create school, work and community environments conducive to these healthy behaviours.

Country-by-country alcohol information

(arranged in alphabetical order)

Austria: Alcohol consumption and smoking rates have not declined and remain among the highest across the EU.

Belgium: Significant inequalities in health status persist in Belgium, largely in line with socioeconomic status. These are largely due to a greater prevalence of risk factors among people with low education or income, including higher smoking rates, excessive alcohol consumption and obesity.

Cyprus: Alcohol consumption is low when compared to other Member States and dietary habits are generally favourable.

Czech Republic: Programmes targeting alcohol consumption have yet to prove effective.

Denmark: Excessive alcohol consumption by Danish adults and adolescents is the highest in the EU. The rate of alcohol-related deaths is higher than in most other EU countries. Recent initiatives to reduce levels of binge drinking in Denmark are a welcome development.

Finland: Alcohol consumption remains an important public health issue in Finland, with more than one-third of adults reporting heavy alcohol consumption on a regular basis. The proposed liberalisation of alcohol sales raises serious concerns that this might exacerbate alcohol-related problems and deaths.

France: Alcohol consumption continues to be an important public health issue in France, and rising obesity rates and lack of physical activity particularly among young people also pose growing health risks. Although alcohol consumption has been reduced over the past decade, it still remains higher than the EU average, with a significant social gradient.

Hungary: Large gaps in life expectancy by gender and socioeconomic status continue to be driven mainly by greater exposure of men to risk factors to health, such as smoking, harmful alcohol consumption and obesity.

Ireland: Almost one-third of adults report excessive alcohol drinking habits, a much greater proportion than in other EU countries.

Italy: The number of alcohol-related deaths is among the lowest in the EU, reflecting generally low alcohol consumption and low levels of binge drinking.

Latvia: Health inequalities are mainly due to higher prevalence of risk factors, particularly smoking and harmful alcohol consumption, among men and people with low education or income.

Strengthening efforts to prevent non-communicable diseases has been recognised as a priority in Latvia, with policies designed to control tobacco smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity

Lithuania: Lithuanians consume more alcohol than any other people in the EU. Excessive alcohol consumption (“binge drinking”) is especially common among men and adolescents. Alcohol-related deaths are more than double the EU average. Strengthening alcohol control policies is high on the policy agenda in Lithuania, and a new law coming into effect in January 2018 will ban advertising of alcohol products, increase the legal age for consumption to 20 years and restrict sales hours.

Poland: About a third of the total burden of disease can be attributed to behavioural risk factors, especially alcohol consumption (which is increasing among adults), obesity and physical inactivity.

Slovenia: The level of alcohol consumption among Slovenians is high, especially among men and young adults.

Sweden: While smoking and alcohol drinking is generally low in Sweden, overweight and obesity problems are growing public health issues among adolescents and adults.

UK: Work to promote healthy lifestyles appears to be producing some positive results, with a reduction in alcohol use. However, obesity and binge drinking are growing.

N.B. Not all 28 EU Member States' brief profiles included a mention of alcohol

For the profiles in full, please click the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/health/state/country_profiles_en

State of Health in the EU 'Companion Report 2017' available at: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/state/docs/2017_companion_en.pdf