Stuff co.nz 22 May 2014
Kiwis are knocking back the alcohol equivalent of 826 bottles of beer a year each – but our binge-drinking culture may not be as bad as feared.
The latest Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health by the World Health Organisation has revealed New Zealanders aged 15 and over drank on average 10.9 litres of pure alcohol a head in 2010, up from 9.6l in 2005, and well above the 6.2l global average.
About 20 per cent of New Zealanders in that category don’t drink alcohol, so when they are removed the average amount for every drinker was even higher.
We drank less than our Australian counterparts, who consumed 12.2l each, but even they were well behind the biggest drinkers – in Belarus – who sank 17.5l.
Since it peaked in the 1970s, our drinking declined steadily until the late 1990s, when it started to rise again slightly.
But despite warnings about a binge-drinking culture, the figures show rates of “heavy episodic drinking” are well below many other countries.