Over the past ten years, Denmark has seen one of the largest drops in alcohol consumption amongst OECD countries, from 12.1 litres of pure alcohol annually per adult (aged 16 and over) in 2007, to 9.1 litres in 2017.
As such, the Scandinavian country is now not far from the average consumption in the OECD countries of 8.9 litres, according to a new OECD report comparing health conditions in its 36 member states.
People in Denmark still pour considerably more beer, wine and spirits into their glasses than their Nordic counterparts, however.
Consumption per person is 6 litres in Norway, 7.1 in Sweden and 8.4 in Finland, the OECD report states.
“(Alcohol) consumption in Denmark is still too high. My concern is particularly for young people, who still have a high consumption,” said Karin Friis Bach, chairperson for the health committee of Danish Regions, the interest organization for Denmark’s five regional health authorities.
A study in June this year by Danish research institute Vidensråd for Forebyggelse (Knowledge Council for Prevention) showed that young people in Denmark start drinking alcohol at an earlier age than in most other European countries. They also drink far more and with the aim of getting drunk, researchers found.
“For young people at school up to 9th grade, consumption has fallen over many years. The problem arises when young people switch to secondary education, where alcohol consumption increases dramatically,” said Professor Janne Tolstrup of the National Institute for Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark, the author of the report.
Danish Regions has called for parliament to impose an age limit of 18 for the purchase of all alcohol, including beer and wine, as in the rest of the Nordic countries. Current rules allow people as young as 16 to buy alcoholic drinks with an alcohol percentage of below 16.5 percent.
“It is disappointed that Denmark is the only country in the Nordic region which still allows the sale of alcopops, breezers, beer and wine to 16-year-olds, Bach said.
The interest organization also wants a minimum price per alcoholic item.
“Hard liquor in particular has become very cheap. It's a problem that young people are drinking cheap vodka for 70 kroner per bottle instead of beer at parties,” Bach said.
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