The new “European Health Report 2018” indicates that although the region’s alcohol consumption levels have fallen, levels of drinking and smoking remain the highest in the world.
- The report, which is published every three years and tracks progress against WHO’s “Health 2020” targets, reveals that although Europeans live an average of more than one year longer than five years ago, there is still more than 10 years difference between the lowest and highest life expectancies: the average life expectancy in Luxembourg is 83.1 years, contrasted with 70.7 years in Turkmenistan. Women also live 6.6 years longer than men.
- WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab commented that, while most European countries had seen significant improvements in their population’s health, progress on smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity was uneven “both within and between countries, between sexes, and across generations… Lifestyle-related risk factors give cause for concern, as they may slow, or even reverse the great gains in life expectancy if left unchecked.”
- Lead author Dr. Claudia Stein, director of the WHO Europe Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation, echoed this point, stating that Europeans still hold “a very unfortunate record… very high rates of alcohol consumption. We are basically the world champions in drinking.” She cautioned that the high prevalence of smoking, drinking, and obesity across Europe “may one day mean that we are no longer the longest-living region.”
- Per capita alcohol consumption was highest in Lithuania, at 15.2 liters of pure alcohol per year, followed by the Czech Republic and Belgium with 12.7 and 12.6 liters, respectively. Stein also noted that “Britain has overtaken the European average” of 8.6 liters of pure alcohol consumption, and that Germany’s average consumption was 11 liters.
- The WHO’s researchers found that one in three people aged 15 years and above smoked tobacco, and that obesity in adults had increased with more than half of Europeans now overweight.