Excessive alcohol consumption amongst the Belizean populace is viewed by some as one of several worrying trends that are affecting our country, and while there may only be a percentage of citizens who actually engage in alcohol abuse, a global survey which was done by the World Health Organization (WHO) and was launched last week in Europe shows that Belizean drinkers regularly consume large volumes of alcohol on average through what is known as “binge drinking.”
While total alcohol consumption for Belize is relatively low in comparison to other countries, it is reportedly trending up sharply across the entire population.
In the years after 1995, a group of key alcohol experts estimated the unrecorded alcohol consumption in Belize to be 2.0 liters of pure alcohol per capita for members of the population older than 15.
By 2008, however, the average consumption for persons 15 and older increased to 5.3 liters of pure alcohol per year, which amounts to about 12 pints.
In the next 5 years between 2008 and 2013, the average amount of alcohol consumed had climbed up to 6.8 liters or about 14 pints yearly.
Also, one of the most worrisome findings of the study showed that among the portion of the population who drink liquor on a normal basis, consumption was very high – meaning there is a lot of binge drinking among Belizeans, more commonly known as “sprees.”
According to the study, male drinkers age 15 and older now consume up to 67.8 pints of pure alcohol yearly on average, and females of that same age and older gulp about 44 pints of booze yearly on average, but it must be noted that 68% of what is consumed is beer.
Still, those figures are alarmingly among the highest per capita in the Caribbean and Latin America, and are twice or even three times the figure recorded in some other countries of the region.
In related news, this week the National Drug Abuse Control Council (NDACC) is conducting Belize’s first Global Youth Tobacco Survey in 6 years, in which over 1,700 students from 40 schools across the country will be monitored with regard to drug use.
In 2008, the last survey showed that 26% of youths between the ages of 13 and 15 had tried a cigarette and that the leading drugs of choice for most youths are alcohol and marijuana, while others resorted to the use of tranquilizers and stimulants.Amandala