The percentage of the population in Switzerland whose regular consumption of alcohol presents a medium to high health risk, fell between 2002 and 2017 from 6.1% to 4.7%. The reason for this is the decline in heavy chronic alcohol consumption among men, whereas among women it has remained practically unchanged.
Marked differences and changes over the entire period can be seen between all three language regions and age groups. The percentage of people with heavy chronic alcohol consumption is higher in French and Italian-speaking Switzerland than in German and Romansh-speaking Switzerland. However, a decline was seen from 11.5% (2002) to 7.4% (2017) in Italian-speaking Switzerland. In 2002, heavy chronic alcohol consumption rose in the whole of Switzerland with increasing age and fell again in retirement age. In 2017, this behaviour was at a minimum among 35 to 44 year-olds. After that age, the share of people with heavy chronic alcohol consumption rose again well into old age.
This indicator is part of the Monitoring System Addiction and NCD (MonAM) of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).
Chronic, excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to health. It is responsible for various diseases such as coronary heart diseases, certain types of cancer, brain haemorrhages, serious depression and epilepsy. The consumption of alcohol can also lead to road accidents, suicide or acts of violence. Overall it significantly increases the risk of death. Furthermore alcohol problems affect not only the person directly concerned but also the people around them.
The indicator reveals the extent of chronic heavy alcohol consumption in Switzerland’s population and shows which groups are most at risk. It provides background information that is used to develop and carry out prevention programmes.
This indicator was calculated on the basis of data from the Swiss Health Survey on the daily average consumption of alcohol in grammes.
It shows the share of people aged 15 and older, living in private households, who indicate a daily average alcohol intake that represents a medium risk (women: 20 to 40g pure alcohol, i.e. 2 to 4 standard units, men: 40 to 60g, i.e. 4 to 6 standard units*) or a high risk to health (women: > 40g i.e. more than 4 standard units, men > 60g i.e. more than 6 standard units.
*1 standard unit = 1 glass of wine/beer/spirits = 10 to 12g pure alcohol.
In its 2018 “Advice on alcohol consumption”, the Federal Commission for Alcohol-related issues (FCAL), recommends no more than one standard unit per day for healthy female adults and no more than two per day for healthy adult men as well as observing alcohol-free days every week.
The indicator is based on the AGRAMTAG index from the Swiss Health Survey. It is calculated using the average daily alcohol consumption in grammes and is based on a combination of questions from the Swiss Health Survey on the consumption of beer, wine, cider, spirits and alcopops in the 12 months prior to the interview (frequency and amount).
It is likely that the results present an underestimation of real consumption: For example, for reasons of social desirability, the persons interviewed tend to say they drink less than they actually do. Furthermore, it can be assumed that people whose consumption of alcohol represents a high risk or has already led to changes in their health and social life, are less likely to take part in a survey.
It should be noted that the questions on alcohol consumption have changed slightly over time. For example, from 2012 the question on cider consumption has no longer been asked and the question about alcopops has only been asked since 2007.
An explanation of socio-demographic variables can be found in the document: Dimension description
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