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India Indians Love Hard Liquor, Shun Wine

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Indians love hard liquor, shun wine

Kounteya Sinha, TNN, Feb 13, 2011, 01.07am IST

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<!-- google_ad_section_start -->NEW DELHI: Indians love their whisky, vodka and rum but are yet to develop a taste for wine.

Spirits make up for 88% of what Indians regularly drink while beer boasts of a 10% share. Wine is only 2% of what Indians love to drink.

An average Indian adult (15 years and over) drank 2.6 litres of "pure alcohol" between 2003-05. This was higher than the per capita consumption in the south-east Asia region which stood at 2.2 litres.

These are the findings of the World Health Organisation's Global status report on alcohol and health which has analysed alcohol consumption in over 100 countries.

In a pattern of drinking score (the higher the score, the greater the alcohol attributable burden of disease for the country), WHO gives India 3 out of 5.

It says that India saw a robust increase in recorded adult per capita consumption of alcohol. When it came to only drinkers, the average per capita consumption of pure alcohol of a 15-year-old and above in India between 2003-05 was 22.25 litres (23.93 litres among men and 10.35 litres among women).

"The harmful use of alcohol is a worldwide problem resulting in millions of deaths, including hundreds of thousands of young lives lost. It is not only a causal factor in many diseases, but also a precursor to injury and violence," Dr Ala Alwan, assistant DG of WHO, said.

The WHO report says that alcohol use results in the death of 2.5 million people annually. Nearly 4% of all deaths are related to alcohol. Most alcohol-related deaths are caused by injuries, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and liver cirrhosis. Globally, 6.2% of all male deaths are related to alcohol, compared to 1.1% of female deaths. Worldwide, 3.2 lakh young people aged 15-29 years die annually from alcohol-related causes, resulting in 9% of all deaths in that age group. Alcohol raises the risk of as many as 60 different diseases, according to a recent study in the medical journal `Lancet'.

According to the WHO report, men outnumber women four to one in weekly episodes of heavy drinking which is most probably the reason for their higher death and disability rates. Men also have much lower rates of abstinence compared to women.

According to the Indian Alcohol Policy Alliance, which brought out an Alcohol Atlas of India a few years back, the average age of alcohol consumption in India has fallen by nearly nine years over the past decade. At present, an average Indian takes the first sip of alcohol at the age of 19 compared to 28 in the 1990s. Studies say that in another 5-7 years, a majority of Indians will start consuming alcohol at the age of 15.

Nearly 62.5 million people in India drink alcohol with per capita consumption being around four litres per adult per year. For every six men, one woman drinks alcohol in India. Over 40% of road crashes occur in India during the night, with one-third of them being due to drunk driving.

India has also become one of the largest alcoholic beverage industries in the world, producing 65% of the alcohol in south-east Asia. It also contributes to about 7% of the total alcohol beverage imports into the region.

Feb 11, 2011
I'd like to see the same warnings used on tobacco products also be implemented on alcohol packaging. Alcohol directly and indirectly causes more harm than all illegal drugs yet it is sold everywhere in the world and spoken of as some kind of harmless little social lubricant.
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