Alcohol consumption mostly steady in Australia

Amanda Lyons

9/09/2019 3:14:56 PM

New ABS figures show a halt in the long-term decline of alcohol consumption and a slight rise in the drinking of harder alcohol.

Alcoholic spirits being poured into a glass.
The decline in alcohol consumption in Australia has stalled, with a slight rise in the category of spirits.

Despite Australia’s international reputation for a hard-drinking culture, statistics have actually shown a steady decline in the consumption in alcohol throughout the country over the past three decades.
But the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on the Apparent consumption of alcohol in Australia, 2017–18, which is measured via data related to alcohol supplied for the purpose of consumption, show that this downward momentum has stalled.
‘This latest data shows a levelling in the most recent period of the longer term trend where pure alcohol consumption [a standard drink contains 12.5 ml of pure alcohol] per capita dropped from 13.09 litres per person in 1974–75 to 9.51 in 2017–18,’ ABS acting Director of Health Statistics, Robert Long, said.
‘In average daily consumption, this equates to 2.08 standard drinks per person and is unchanged from 2016–17.’
The ABS statistics also reflect a change in Australians’ drinking habits in terms of what they’re drinking, with the balance shifting significantly over time between beer and wine.
‘In 2017–18 beer represented 39% of all pure alcohol available for consumption and wine 38.6%,’ Mr Long said.
‘This is in stark contrast to 40 years ago when beer represented 67.6% and wine 18.6% of pure alcohol available per person aged 15 years and over, reflecting the change in consumption preferences over time.’
However, while consumption amounts had fallen slightly or remained the same over most categories of alcohol, one category saw an increase, in reversal of its prior downward trend – spirits.
‘Spirits and Ready-to-Drink beverage [RTDs] consumption increased from 1.79 to 1.89 litres per capita over the previous year,’ Mr Long said.
‘Beer consumption was relatively steady at 3.71 litres per capita, while wine consumption, which has recently been virtually equal to beer, has decreased slightly from 3.74 to 3.67 litres per capita over the same period.’
The report also records significant differences in gender in terms of alcohol consumption, with males more likely to drink beer (40.4%) than women (8%) in any given week. Conversely, women were more likely to consume wine (31.3%) than males (22%), while males are more likely to consume spirits or RTDs than women, at 17.7% compared to 13.6%.

ABS alcohol Australian Bureau of Statistics

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