Drinking the EU Economy Dry: Experts Call for Action on the Crippling Socio-Economic Costs of Alcohol

November 12, 2015: Europe is the heaviest drinking region of the world, with consumption levels in some countries approximately twice the global average. Alcohol is the world’s number one risk factor for ill-health and premature death among the 25-59 year age group, the core of the working age population.

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Not only is alcohol a risk factor in over 60 types of diseases, with nearly 30% of deaths from gastro-intestinal diseases attributed to alcohol, but the burden of alcohol related harm also has a significant impact on EU productivity. In fact, €74 billion annual productivity losses are reported across the EU and as many as a quarter of staff in major companies are reported to have drinking problems.

The ripple effect of alcohol related harm reaches all levels of society as well as future generations. It is estimated that 11 million people in the EU are dependent on alcohol, resulting in 9 million children and young people consequently living with at least one parent addicted to alcohol. Children living with families affected by alcohol related harm also tend to have lower school attendance and worse health.

Gastroenterologists from United European Gastroenterology (UEG), in association with the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare), The European Liver Patients Association (ELPA) and the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), are supporting the Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm (16-20 November 2015) and calling for the prompt renewal of a EU Alcohol Strategy to reduce the crippling health burden and socio-economic costs attributed to alcohol consumption.

According to Professor Thierry Ponchon, Chair of the UEG Public Affairs Committee; “Due to the size of the problem and its universal impact, alcohol requires a focused approach and commitment for action from policy and decision makers at the European and national levels, particularly if we are to meet Eurocare’s recommended target for a minimum 10% reduction of total alcohol consumption in Europe by 2025.”

UEG welcome Eurocare’s focus on the development and implementation of health promotion policies and campaigns including those within the workplace and protecting children, helping to encourage a healthier and more productive workforce now and for future generations.

For more information on the Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm, please see www.awarh.eu

Notes to Editors

Available for interview:
Professor Thierry Ponchon, Chair of the Public Affairs Committee at United European Gastroenterology; and specialist in hepatogastroenterology and Director of the gastroenterology unit at Edouard Herriot Hospital, Lyon.

About UEG
UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge.

To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:

  • UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world
  • UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
  • Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations
  • UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
  • EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe

Find out more about UEG’s work by visiting www.ueg.eu or contact:

Luke Paskins on +44 (0)1444 811099 or media@ueg.eu

References:
1. WHO (2013) Status Report on Alcohol and Health in 35 European Countries 2013
2. WHO (2010) Status Report on NCDs http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd_report2010/en/
3. WHO (2014) Global status report on alcohol and health 2014 http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/en/
4. Anderson P, Baumberg B (2006) Alcohol in Europe: a public health perspective. London Institute of Alcohol StudiesWHO (2012). Alcohol in the European Union: Consumption, harm and policy approaches

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