Mon, Jan 21, 2019 - Page 2 News List

HPA warns over alcohol, especially binge drinking

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A man pours a glass of beer at the New Taipei City Beer Festival at Fisherman’s Wharf in Tamsui District on Sept. 23 last year.
Warning: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage your health

Photo: Chen Hsin-yu, Taipei Times

There might be as many as 1 million adults who occasionally binge drink in Taiwan, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said in a survey yesterday, adding that alcohol should be avoided generally.

People should not be misled by claims that drinking in moderation does no harm to the body or that drinking wine in moderation is good for the heart, it said.

While many people still believe that wine in moderation is beneficial for cardiovascular health, newer studies, including one published in The Lancet in August last year, suggested that alcohol use was the seventh-leading risk factor for deaths and disability-adjusted life-years in 2016, and that the overall risk of drinking alcohol outweighs any known benefits, the HPA said.

The WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health published last year showed that more than 3 million people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol in 2016, the HPA said.

Among all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28.7 percent were from injuries, 21.3 percent were from digestive disorders, 19 percent were due to cardiovascular disease, 12.9 percent were due to infectious diseases, 12.6 percent were from cancers and the remainder were due to mental disorders and other conditions, the survey said.

A 2017 HPA survey showed that more than 8.43 million people aged 18 years or over in Taiwan consume alcohol, while an estimated 1 million people binge drink.

The WHO defines heavy episodic drinking, or binge drinking, as having consumed at least 60g of pure alcohol on at least one occasion in the past 30 days, the HPA said, adding that 60g of pure alcohol is equivalent to four or five beers (330ml, about 5 percent alcohol by volume), 0.8 bottles of red wine (750ml at 13.5 percent) or 165ml of whisky (at 46 percent).

Drinking too much alcohol on a single occasion can increase the risk of accident resulting in injury, misjudgement of risky situations, lost of self-control as well as long-term adverse health, so avoiding alcohol is the best way to improve health, it said.

The HPA urged companies to help convey to employees the health risks from drinking and avoid encouraging a culture of forcing people to drink at parties.

People should drink water rather than alcohol, eat more fruit and vegetables, and never drive after drinking, it said.

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