Alcohol consumption is decreasing in France, but women are drinking more

Alcohol consumption is decreasing in France, but women are drinking more

Alcohol consumption is falling in France and this is good news for our health. “In 30 years, between 1992 and 2021, the share of adults reporting drinking alcohol every day has been divided by three,” rejoices Public Health France in a report published this Tuesday on 2021 data. Indeed , only 8% of adults reported consuming an alcoholic beverage every day in 2021, compared to nearly a quarter (23.9%) in 1990. This reduction in consumption is mainly observed among men, the youngest, the oldest elderly and people with the highest incomes, specifies Public Health France.

Binge drinking

The French, however, remain large consumers. The share of adults drinking weekly (39%) has remained stable since 2017. Women are also drinking more and more, catching up with men who were historically heavier drinkers. However, the relationship with alcohol is different depending on age. Thus, younger people drink less often, but when they do, they ingest larger volumes of alcoholic beverages than their elders. Concretely, 18-24 year olds consume on average 3.2 glasses per day and have 64.3 days of consumption per year, while 65-75 year olds consume 1.6 glasses, 123.7 days per year.

The report also documents the increase in occasional excessive drinking (more than six drinks in the same evening, “binge drinking”) among women: 23% say they have experienced at least one during the year, compared to 21 .4% in 2017, and 8.6% one per month, compared to 7.6% in 2017. The health agency puts forward several hypotheses to justify the increase in consumption among women: “In general, the major developments societal factors such as the increase in the proportion of women participating in the labor market, the decline in the age at first marriage and the age of the first child are mentioned by certain researchers. Certain women evolving in masculine environments, particularly in advantaged socio-economic spheres, could have a tendency to adapt to the consumption behaviors of these environments, in order to conform to certain informal codes or even to use alcohol as a form self-medication to combat perceived stress,” she explains.

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Regional disparities are also visible. In Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie, two wine-growing regions, the share of daily drinkers is slightly higher than in the rest of the country: with 10.2% and 11% respectively. Conversely, Brittany is average with 7.9% of daily consumers. Finally, in the overseas territories (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Guyana), consumption is stagnating with 5% of inhabitants consuming alcohol every day.

A very positive image of alcohol in France

“Although alcohol consumption has declined for several decades, this product benefits froma very positive image and an important place in the daily lives of the French and in society”, warns the public institution, which pleads for “the French to become aware that this product is harmful to their health and that its consumption is not trivialized”. Alcohol consumption is responsible for around 41,000 deaths per year, recalls Public Health France which campaigns for the generalization of “Dry January”.

This challenge from across the Channel involves suspending your alcohol consumption for a month, in January. Supported by various associations, it is not officially supported by the State. Some 4.5% of 18-75 year olds declared having changed their consumption in January 2020 and 2021 (reduction or abstinence), due to Dry January, or around 2 million people each year. The participants interviewed by Public Health France highlight “a certain awareness of the predominant place of alcohol in society, and social pressure to consume of which they were not always aware. »

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