– China, India drinking more –
Binge drinking is especially damaging to health, the WHO pointed out, estimating that 16 percent of the world’s drinkers abuse alcohol to excess.
While people in the world’s wealthiest nations, in Europe and the Americas especially, are boozier than people in poorer countries, rising wealth in emerging economies is also driving up alcohol consumption.
Drinking in populous China and India is rising particularly fast as people earn more money, the WHO said, warning that the average annual intake in China was likely to swell by 1.5 litres of pure alcohol by 2025.
Still, Eastern Europe and Russia are home to the world’s biggest drinkers. READ: Interdictions, charges as Govt cracks whip over toxic brew.
Russian men who drink consumed an average of 32 litres of pure alcohol a year, according to 2010 statistics, followed by other Western countries including Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia and South Africa.
On average, every person above the age of 15 worldwide drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol in a year, according to the report.
Counting only those who drink though, that rises to 17 litres of pure alcohol each year.
But far from everyone indulges. Nearly half of all adults worldwide have never touched alcohol, and nearly 62 percent say they have not touched a drink in the past year, the report showed.
Abstinence especially among women, is most common in low-income countries, while religious belief and social norms mean many Muslim countries are virtually alcohol free.