Alcohol: 22% of French people exceed the recommended consumption limits

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Written by Doug Hampton

(AFP) – More than one in five French adults (22%) exceed the recommended alcohol consumption limits in mainland France, but this proportion is falling, according to figures published Tuesday by Public Health France and relating to 2021.

“Between 2020 and 2021, in mainland France, the proportion of adults declaring alcohol consumption above the lower-risk consumption benchmarks decreased significantly, from 23.7% to 22.0%”, observed the health agency in its weekly epidemiological bulletin.

The study is based on data from the Barometer of Public Health France (SPF) 2021 survey.

To limit the health impact of alcohol consumption, since 2017, lower-risk consumption benchmarks (maximum 10 drinks per week, maximum two drinks per day, and days in the week without consumption) are object of information campaigns.

As the proportion of French people exceeding these benchmarks had not declined between 2017 and 2020, the overall drop in 2021 is considered “encouraging” by SPF.

Especially since “the context of the health and social crisis linked to Covid-19 continued in 2021” and “could have foreshadowed an upward trend in alcohol consumption”.

The decrease was observed mainly among men, but also the youngest, the oldest and the most advantaged (in terms of diplomas and income).

The pandemic “could have reduced the festive occasions” of the youngest and pushed the oldest to “limit the convivial moments conducive to consumption to prevent possible contamination with Covid-19”, according to hypotheses from Public Health France.

Disparities persist between regions.

“Exceeding the benchmarks appears significantly higher than the metropolitan average in Brittany, Pays de la Loire and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes”, notes the health agency, “while it is lower in Île-de-France, Bourgogne-Franche -County and in all the DROMs”.

France, still one of the most alcohol-loving countries in the world, has 42.8 million consumers.

“It remains necessary to continue to inform about the risks of alcohol consumption, even at low doses”, according to SPF.

Alcohol consumption is directly or indirectly responsible for more than sixty diseases (cancer, cardiovascular, digestive, mental diseases, etc.).

It is the first cause of hospitalization and the second cause of avoidable mortality in France (after tobacco).

“Individual satisfaction and the financial profits generated by alcohol consumption do not manage to exceed the cost of pathologies and mortality: 49,000 deaths per year for a social cost estimated at 118 billion euros”, notes Inserm in another article of the epidemiological bulletin.

Inserm experts again call for “limiting access and reducing its attractiveness” through a range of actions (restoration of the Evin law in its initial version then reinforcement, prevention, early detection, etc.) .

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