In Germany, it’s all about the beer, which is a very important part of the country’s tradition. For example, the legendary Oktoberfest celebration is often duplicated across the world every year by enthusiastic beer lovers; but the authentic celebration only can be found in Munich. Italians, on the other hand, may start the day with a cup of world famous rich Italian coffee or cappuccino; but during the rest of the day the most popular drink in Italy is wine. And most Italians drink it with nearly every meal. So what do you think about sipping a glass of wine every time that you eat?
According to a recent report, adults in many wealthy countries drink an average of 100 bottles of wine each year. But when it comes to the hard stuff, people 15 and older downed over 6 litres of alcohol per person in 2010, according to the report conducted by The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The problem, in some countries, is that partying too much has led to the subsequent serious health problems that are associated with heavy drinking.
Residents in 10 countries, according to the OECD report, consumed more than 13 or more litres per person as of 2010. In the heaviest drinking nation, residents guzzled over 17 litres on average. Tom Donaldson, president of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), told Market Watch that “historical and societal factors” can explain why certain countries have more boozers than others.
In some of those areas, there are no public health awareness efforts whatsoever about the effects of alcohol consumption,” Donaldson told Market Watch. “Eight of the nations with the highest consumption did not have public policy initiatives to address the effects of alcohol consumption on the general public.”
Excessive drinkers in ‘the most wasted countries’ also were among the most likely to agonize over alcohol-use disorders. Such disorders, according to Market Watch, can lead to a variety of issues such as liver cirrhosis and mental illnesses such as depression. According to a similar report by The World Health Organization (WHO), of the 3.3 million alcohol-related global deaths, a third were caused by cardiovascular diseases and diabetes; and half of all deaths due to liver cirrhosis are caused by alcohol consumption. The OECD also found that alcohol consumption patterns in its 34 member states, according to The Washington Post, is “damning”.
The cost to society and the economy of excessive alcohol consumption around the world is massive, especially in OECD countries,” the organization’s secretary-general, Angel Gurría, told The Washington Post, which highlights women and youth increasing alcohol consumption.
In fact, over-drinking has become particularly troublesome in Israel, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Poland, and Sweden, according to the OECD. “Less dramatic” — but still shocking — was the increase in Russia, Brazil, India, and China. The OECD says the increase has occurred in many countries because alcohol has become more available and affordable. In addition, former advertisement restrictions have become more lenient in recent years.
See also: Save Water, Drink Beer
The question, however, is which nation has the heaviest drinkers? The following provides an overview of “the Top Five Most ‘Wasted’ Nations”, which includes their famous libations.
The Top Five Heaviest-Drinking Countries:
Russians, on the other hand, often engage in drinking rituals that include toasting throughout meals, especially when guests are present. And it’s only proper for a polite Russian to reply by downing a shot of vodka, which is the preferred alcoholic beverage. But according to the survey, Russians have taken a lot of shots to the tune of 15.1 liters of alcohol per capita in 2010, among the highest averages in the world.
And annual drinking is expected to linger well into the future, staying roughly around 15 liters per capita through 2025. With over 18 percent of residents suffering from alcohol-related disorders, more than any country except Hungary, “alcohol abuse had adverse health effects for the Russian population”. As of 2012, over 30 percent of all deaths in Russia were related to drinking alcohol, among the highest rates in the world.
In Lithuania, residents can enjoy a tasty honey vodka liqueur that was invented by 14 century Benedictine monks (in Nesvizh, Belarus), says Hostel Bookers.com. And the sneaky drink with the powerful punch has been getting Lithuanians drunk since the 16th century.
According to the survey, Lithuania was second only to Austria in terms of the percentage of drinkers who engaged in binge-drinking by 36.7 percent with almost one-quarter of the women in the country engaged, more than in any other country. More than 30 percent of fatalities in Lithuania were related to drinking alcohol in 2012, a higher percentage than all but three other countries reviewed, according to the survey.
In the wine shops and beer halls in Bucharest and all across Romania, residents devoured over 14 liters, and binged on 7 percent of the country’s alcoholic beverages, say the survey. The drink of choice for Romania’s heavy drinkers is Tuica, a clear and colorless liquid with a powerful kick. The problem, however, is that Romanians are drinking too much of it, says The Romanian Insider.
According to the survey, over 37 percent of Romanian teenagers between 15 and 19 years old had participated in binge drinking in the past 30 days, more than in all but a few countries. But alcohol consumption is worst for the country’s male population with more than 55 percent of Romanian men ages 15 to 19 who admitted they had engaged in binge drinking in the previous 30 days, considerably higher than most other countries. According to the survey, almost 9 percent of all fatalities in 2012 were alcohol related. According to The Romanian Insider, over 20 million people are dependent on alcohol across the continent.
Republic of Moldova
Residents who live in the Republic of Moldova consume 16.8 liters of alcohol per person per year, according to the survey. And they make their own liquor called rachiu, or homemade liquor.
“I am not a fan of raciu at all, but I have had some delicious homemade wine,” a Washington, D.C. blogger explained. “You should be careful where you get either of these from since sometimes people will burn tires, if they can’t afford sugar to make the alcohol and drinking this type of alcohol can blind you ( I haven’t met anyone who this has been an issue for, but it doesn’t sound impossible here)."
Roughly one third of all fatalities in Moldova were related to alcohol, more than in all but two other countries, according to the survey. And consumption rates are expected to reach over 17 percent by 2015.
According to the ‘official’ Belarus Tourism website, the county’s oldest alcoholic beverages were made from honey—usually bee honey similar to beer brewing, while many recipes included hop. The most common alcoholic beverages served in the houses of Belarusian gentry were liqueurs, nastoikas and nalivkas (sweet and strong alcoholic beverages based on vodka and enhanced with herbs, berries, honey, spices and sugar), according to the website. However, the most popular Belarusian liquor is vodka (garelka, burnt wine), which was first served in the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the end of the 15th century.
Perhaps Belarus’s history of getting drunk explains why it is ranked “the most wasted” country with 17.5 liters of alcohol consumed per person every year. The country only straggled behind just two others, Russia and Hungary. As a matter of fact, alcohol was a factor in nearly 35 percent of all deaths in the country, the most out of any nation in the world.
In regards to the countries with the heaviest population of drinkers, the OECD says that Czech Republic or Germany could serve as examples on how-to reduce these shocking statistics. Public health policies, according to the OECD, in both countries have recently had a significant impact.
"Raising costs, for example through increased taxes, or imposing minimum prices on cheaper alcohol" are some of the recommendations included in the report. In the meantime, it might be more appropriate here to hold up a drink and say, “here’s to the nation with the most drunks.” Well, maybe not.