South Africa’s alcohol consumption rate has climbed, with the country now ranked as one of the top 20 biggest drinking nations in the world.
This is according to a statistical update from the World Health Organization, tracking alcohol consumption per capita, across 194 countries.
The data shows that in 2015, pure alcohol consumption (per litre) in South Africa is at 11.5 litre per capita per year – up from 11.0 litres in 2014.
This pushes South Africa up to the third biggest drinking nation in Africa, and the 19th biggest drinking nation in the world, tied with Poland.
Among the drinking population (excluding abstainers), South Africans consume in the region of 27 litres of pure alcohol per capita per year, one of the highest rates in the world.
South Africa’s average alcohol consumption is almost double the WHO African region average of 6 litres, and is expected to increase to 12.1 in 2025.
More than a quarter of the drinking population in South Africa are considered binge drinkers, consuming at least 60 grams or more of pure alcohol in one session within a 30-day period.
The world’s biggest drinking nations (litres per capita, 2015)
According to the WHO, alcohol use disorders constitute a significant disease burden in most regions in the world, with the exception of the Eastern Mediterranean region where alcohol consumption is limited.
Worldwide alcohol consumption in 2015 was projected to be 6.3 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15 or older.
In 2010, 38% of the world population aged 15 or older had drunk alcohol in the past 12 months, with 16% of them engaged in ‘heavy episodic drinking’.
In 2012, about 3.3 million deaths – or 5.9% of all global deaths – were attributable to alcohol consumption; 7.6% of deaths among males, and 4.0% of deaths among females.
South Africa has been highlighted as the worst country in the world for drunk driving, where as much as 58% of deaths on SA roads can be attributed to alcohol consumption.