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VN among countries with highest alcohol consumption increase rates

Monday, February 17, 2014, 15:58 GMT+7
VN among countries with highest alcohol consumption increase rates
Drinkers at a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City

With alcohol consumption per capital increasing year after year, Vietnam is among the 25 countries with the highest increase rates of alcohol and beer consumption, the Health Ministry’s Institute of Health Strategy and Policy reported. While many other manufacturing sectors are facing difficulties, the liquor, beer, and soft drink sector has developed impressively, said Vu Thi Minh Hanh, deputy head of the institute, who is among the drafters of the national strategy on alcohol and beer abuse prevention and control that has been approved by the Prime Minister.  In April 2013, beer production in Vietnam amounted to about 233.4 million liters, up 15 percent from the same period last year, Hanh said. In its global status report on alcohol and health 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) affirmed that Vietnam is among the few countries that have high increase rates in their consumption of alcohol, including beer, per capita per year, while the alcohol consumption rates of other countries have barely changed in the past decade. Specifically, the consumption of alcohol and beer (converted into absolute alcohol) among people of 15 years of age and higher increased from 1.35 liters (absolute alcohol) per capita in 2001 to 3.3 liters in 2007, 3.54 liters in 2008, and 4 liters in 2010. In such increases, the rates of increase of beer are higher than those of liquor. According to the development plan for Vietnam’s alcohol, beer, and drinks industry by 2015, with a vision towards 2025, the consumption of alcohol and beer (converted into absolute alcohol) of the population of 15 years of age and higher may increase to seven liters per capita, which is higher than the current world’s average of 6.3 liters per capita.Alcohol consumption rises in both youths and adults It is worth noting that all of the alcohol consumption rates of underage and young people in 2008 increased by 10 percent compared to those of 2003, Hanh warned. In 2008, the proportion of underage men and women who often drank alcohol and beer was 80 percent and 36 percent respectively. Of this number, 60 percent of men and 22 percent of women said they often got drunk. In the same year, the proportion of drinkers among 14-17 year olds was 45 percent, much higher than that of 2002. In 2010, 70 percent of men and 6 percent of women said they drank alcohol and beer monthly. Currently, of the men who drink daily, 25 percent drink at levels of more than 5 alcohol units per day, equivalent to 50 grams of pure alcohol, Hanh said.Ranking first in South East Asia According to the market research organization Eurowatch, Vietnam consumed 3 billion of liters of beer in 2012, three times more than in 2004.  The consumption of beer per capita in 2012 was 32 liters, ranking first in South East Asia and third in Asia, after China and Japan, Hanh said.  At least US$3 billion is spent on alcohol and beer per year in Vietnam, based on a calculation pricing beer at VND22,000 ($1.04) per liter. While Vietnam’s income per capita ranks eighth among the 11 countries in South East Asia, the country ranked first in consumption of alcohol and beer, above Thailand and the Philippines. Vietnam is now among the 25 countries with the highest rates of increase in alcohol and beer consumption in the world. The country’s rate is now 15 percent, while those of Nigeria and India and Brazil are 17.2, 17, and 16 percent respectively.Don’t drink more than a bottle of beer per day Along with increases in alcohol consumption rates, the number of people suffering from diseases related to alcohol and beer such as neurosis, delirium tremens, and liver problems has increased, as well as the number traffic accidents caused by drunk driving, Hanh said.   According to the World Health Organization, there are four levels of risk in using alcohol and beer: drinking at a safe level, drinking at a low risk, drinking at a harmful level, and alcoholism. In order to minimize the harmful effects of alcohol, the WHO advises that men and women should not drink more than two units and one unit of alcohol per day respectively. A unit is equivalent to a 330-ml bottle of beer, 30 ml of liquor, or 150 ml of wine, according to WHO. In an attempt to limit alcohol abuse, the Government has issued regulations banning civil servants from drinking alcohol inside and outside their offices during work every day, Hanh said. However, in fact, some civil servants still abuse alcohol during their working time. Therefore, such regulations must be reinforced in the future to contribute to the fight against alcohol abuse, Hanh said. The above-mentioned strategy is the first step in the building of a bill on the prevention and control of harmful effects of alcohol abuse, she added.

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