Drink A Lot? Cut Back By 33% And Save The Health Sector $789 Million, Says Deakin Study

A new Deakin University study on the drinking habits of Australians claims that if adults on average drank three less glasses of wine or five less beers, the health sector would be $789 million dollars better off; the workforce would improve, to the tune of $427 million in increased productivity and almost 40 per cent of us would be less likely to die from the effects of long-term alcohol consumption.

Image: Dave / Flickr

The partially VicHealth-funded study, to be published in Amercian Journal of Public Health, found that by cutting back the per capita, per year ethanol intake of high-risk drinkers by 3.4L, from 9.8L, could see savings of over $1.2 billion in regained productivity and reduced demands on the health system.

The study defined high-risk users as those who consumed “greater than four standard drinks per day [for men] and for women as greater than two standard drinks per day”, while those at risk from long-term exposure would have to drink more than 75mL a day for men and 50mL for women. The data was taken from a National Health Survey conducted over the 2004-2005 period.

While the results showed the theoretical benefits of slashing our alcohol consumption by 34 per cent, the study claims that “targeted reductions” for smoking would provide greater gains. It is mentioned that that excessive alcohol consumption only makes up 2.3 per cent of health burden, with “tobacco use, high blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass and physical inactivity” ahead of it.

On an interesting note, the reduction would see some 1000 people retire earlier, as the study showed “high risk drinkers” remained in the workforce longer than their tee-totalling counterparts.

What do you think of the study’s definition of high-risk / long-term risk drinkers? Are you smashing back enough alcohol a day that cutting back by the amounts recommended here would make a difference (or even be physically possible)? I’m lucky if I have a single beer a week.

Economic and health savings to be made if Australian adults cut their alcohol consumption by five standard drinks a week [Deakin University]


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