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Feast Your Eyes: Drinking Around the World

A new World Health Organization report shows who's drinking what, where—and how it's killing them.


The Economist has created this chart from the World Health Organization's newly published Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2011.

World consumption in 2005 averaged out at the equivalent of 12.95 pints of pure alcohol per person aged 15 years or older, according to the report, which also noted "marked increases" in consumption in Africa and South-East Asia between 2001-2005. Most astonishingly, nearly 30 percent of all alcohol consumed each year is moonshine or home-brewed liquor.


That said, WHO found that "most people do not drink"—only half of men and one third of women drank any alcohol at all during 2005, with most abstainers living in North African and South-Asian countries.

The report, unsurprisingly given its source, is particularly focused on the public health implications of alcohol consumption. Globally, "nearly 4 percent of all deaths each year are related to alcohol," with the vast majority of those being male (6.2 percent, compared to 1.1 percent of female deaths).

As The Economist points out, these numbers mean that alcohol consumption results in more deaths each year than AIDS or tuberculosis. The problem, as you can see clearly in the chart above, is especially pronounced in the former Soviet Union, where one in five men die due to alcohol-related causes.

The report itself is a data junkie's dream, with graphs and pie-charts galore. In the United States, 17.7 percent of adults are lifetime abstainers who have never touched a drop (compared to only 2.6 percent of French adults and 28 percent of Chinese). Interestingly, we drink 53 percent of our booze in the form of beer, and only 16 percent as wine, while in France, the proportion is almost the inverse, at 62 percent wine and 17 percent beer.


Images: The first graph is via The Economist; the second is from the United States of America's page in the World Health Organization report.
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