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The heaviest-drinking countries in Europe revealed

The heaviest drinking countries in Europe have been revealed, with Lithuania heading the list, and Poland and the UK second and third place respectively, with Ireland in sixth.

The global report found that Europeans drink more than people on any other continent, and warned that such habits placed people at a higher risk of developing digestive cancers such as bowel cancer and cancer of the oesophagus (gullet/foodpipe).

The average European drinks an average of just under two drinks a day, or around 11 litres of pure alcohol a year, according to the report, issued by United European Gastroenterology.

While consumption is rising in Lithuania, it is falling in most other countries in the EU, according to WHO data.

Nevertheless, the region still drinks double that of other parts of the world, said Mariann Skar, secretary general of European Alcohol Policy Alliance, who called on the European Union to do more to ensure alcoholic drinks carry ingredient and nutritional information.

“Europe has an alcohol problem, not only because of the consumption but also because of the harm,” she added. “We have high numbers of deaths from alcohol, liver cirrhosis and accidents and injuries.

“We are also a producing region. So there’s probably historical reasons and religious ones too [as to why Europeans drink more] and if you go to the Nordic countries we have an old, unhealthy drink pattern.”

The European region, as defined by WHO, drank 10.3 litres of pure alcohol per person in 2016, compared with south-east Asia, four litres; Africa, six litres; and the Americas, 8.2 litres.

How much Europeans drink

The following is based on assumption that the average drink contains 12.5g of alcohol – or 1.5 units.

  • Lithuania: 3.2 drinks a day
  • Poland: 2.1 drinks a day
  • United Kingdom: 2.1 drinks a day
  • Germany: 2.0 drinks a day
  • France: 2.0 drinks a day
  • Ireland 1.9 drinks a day (European average)
  • Spain: 1.6 drinks a day
  • Malta: 1.3 drinks a day
  • Italy: 1.3 drinks a day


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