New figures from eurostat show that in 2019 some 8.4% of the EU‘s adult population consumed alcohol daily, 28.8% did so weekly, 22.8% monthly and 26.2% never consumed or hadn’t consumed any alcohol in the last 12 months.
For Ireland 2.4% of its adult population consumed alcohol daily, 39.3% weekly and 22.9% monthly while 22.6% never consumed or hadn’t consumed any alcohol in the last 12 months.
However daily consumption of alcohol in the EU was found to increase with age. The lowest share (1.0%) of those who consumed alcohol the most frequently (ie every day) was recorded among those aged 15 to 24 while the highest share (16.0%) was found in people aged 75 or over. However, the latter age group also accounted for the highest share (40.3%) of those that never consumed alcohol or had not consumed any in the past 12 months.
In Ireland, the lowest share of those who consumed alcohol every day was among the 25 to 34 age group at 1.0% with females between 35 and 44 (at 0.4%) the lowest by gender. At 7% those drinking alcohol every day was highest among the 75-plus age group and male by gender (12.2%). At 3.4% females from 65 to 74 were the highest everyday consumer of alcohol for their gender.
Again, however, 32.6% of those over 75 never drank alcohol while 48.2 had either never done so or had not done so in the last 12 months.
Weekly alcohol consumption in the EU was fairly stable across all age groups between 25 and 64, the highest share (33.5%) being found among people aged 45 to 54.
In Ireland those between 55 and 64 formed the largest age category for weekly consumption at 46.5% while males in this age group were the highest of their gender at 53.9%. Females drinking weekly were most represented in the 45 to 54 age group at 44.1%.
Monthly and less-than-once-a-month consumption slightly decreased with age in the EU. People aged between 25 and 34 recorded the highest share (28.5%) that consumed alcohol monthly.
Here in Ireland males aged between 20 and 24 formed the highest monthly consumers for their gender. Among females the 25 to 34 age group was highest at 32.7%.
Daily and weekly consumption of alcohol was more common among men than women in the EU (13.0% for men vs 4.1% for women and 36.4% for men vs 21.7% for women respectively).
The share of people drinking alcohol daily was highest in Portugal and the lowest in Lithuania while daily alcohol intake was the most frequent in Portugal with a fifth (20.7%) of the population consuming alcohol every day followed by Spain (13.0%) and Italy (12.1%).
In contrast the lowest share was around 1.0% in Latvia and Lithuania.
In the Netherlands almost half of the population (47.3%) consumed alcohol on a weekly basis closely followed by Luxembourg (43.1%) and Belgium (40.8%).
Monthly consumption in the EU was highest in Lithuania with 31.3%, Latvia (31.1%) and Cyprus (30.4%).
Among the EU Member States, Croatia reported the highest share (38.3%) of the population who never consumed alcohol or had not consumed any in the last 12 months.
Largest gender gaps for daily consumption in Portugal and Spain
Men consumed alcohol more frequently than women in all EU Member States. The largest gender gaps were found in Portugal (33.4% vs 9.7%) and Spain (20.2% vs 6.1%) for daily consumption and in Romania (32.2% vs 6.6%) followed by Slovakia (30.6% vs 8.8%) for weekly consumption.
However proportions of monthly intake were fairly equal between the sexes.
In all the European countries, women accounted for a significantly higher share of individuals that never consumed alcohol or had not consumed any in the last 12 months. The largest gender gap was found in Cyprus (12.8% for men vs 44.2% for women), Bulgaria (16.2% vs 42.0%) and Italy (21.5% vs 46.7%).
Heavy drinking episodes “at least once a month” higher in Denmark, Romania and Luxembourg
Heavy episodic drinking is defined as ingesting the equivalent of more than 60g of pure ethanol on a single occasion.
Here Ireland came in in sixth place at 24% of adults who reported taking part in heavy drinking episodes at least once a month. This was highest among males between 25 and 34 at 29% and lowest among females over 75 years-of-age (2.0%).
Those reporting such drinking every week was highest among Irish males aged between 65 and 74 at 8.2%.
Among the EU Member States, between 4% (in Cyprus and Italy) and 38% (in Denmark) did so. Among these, the majority did so every month, while a smaller proportion (between three and 19 times smaller) engaged in the behaviour at least once a week.