The French still drink a lot of alcohol, but less than before, and women tend to catch up with men when it comes to “excessive occasional consumption”, reveals a study by health authorities published Tuesday.
According to the latest Public Health Europe survey which covers 2021, long-term trends reveal “a very marked decline in declared daily consumption over recent decades“, which is reflected in the sales figures.
Consumption generally down
For decades, the weekly and daily consumption of the French has been decreasing. The share of weekly consumers, which was 62.6% in 2000, was only 39% in 2021. And the proportion of adults consuming alcohol every day was almost divided by three, going from 21.5% in 2000 to 8.0% in 2021, according to this study which is based on declarative data.
Driven by the reduction in wine consumption, the trend is the result of cultural developments and the implementation of public policies, such as the Évin law of 1991 which severely limited advertising in favor of alcohol, explains Public Health Europe.
Alcohol: women are catching up with men
As was already observed in 2017, average alcohol consumption still differs greatly depending on age. Thus, younger people drink less often, but when they do, they ingest larger volumes of alcoholic beverages than their elders.
Another trend “that we have observed for several years, in Europe and abroad, is a rapprochement in behavior between men and women“, Raphaël Andler, co-author of the study, told AFP.
Binge-drinking increases among women over 35
Rather decreasing among young men, the phenomenon of “heavy occasional drinking” (otherwise called “binge drinking”) – defined by the consumption of at least 6 glasses of alcohol on a single occasion – is particularly tending to increase among women over 35.
In detail, the study published in the Weekly Epidemiological Bulletin states:
“The frequency indicators for APIs (heavy occasional alcohol consumption) did not change significantly between 2017 and 2021 among all adults and among men. On the other hand, the share of women declaring having had an IPA at least once in the year and the share of those declaring at least one IPA per month are increasing significantly: increasing respectively from 21.4% to 23.0% and from 7.6% to 8.6% between 2017 and 2021.
Since 2005, the proportion of men having IPA, whatever the frequency, has been stable overall while an increasing trend is observed among women..
Evolution of alcohol consumption indicators between 1992 and 2021 in mainland Europe among women aged 18-75
Several hypotheses have been put forward to explain these developments: the increase in the proportion of women participating in the labor market or the increase in the age at first marriage, or even the marketing of the alcohol industry aimed at the public feminine.
Alcohol consumption is responsible for around 41,000 deaths per year and is one of the leading risk factors for premature death, recalls the health agency, but Europe “does not have a national control plan”.