Aims: To give an overview of the volume of alcohol consumption, beverage preference, and patterns of drinking among adults (people 15 years and older) in central and eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) and to compare it to southern and western Europe, Russia and Ukraine.
Methods: Secondary data analysis. Consumption and preferred beverage type data for the year 2002 were taken from the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and the WHO Global Alcohol Database.
Results: Average consumption in central and eastern Europe is high with a relatively large proportion of unrecorded consumption ranging from one litre in Czech Republic and Estonia to 10.5 l in Ukraine. The proportion of heavy alcohol consumption (more than 40 g of pure alcohol per day) among men was the lowest in Bulgaria (25.8%) and the highest in Czech Republic (59.4%). Among women, the lowest proportion of heavy alcohol consumption was registered in Estonia (4.0%) and the highest in Hungary (16.0%). Patterns of drinking are detrimental with a high proportion of binge drinking, especially in the group of countries traditionally drinking vodka. In most countries, beer is now the most prevalent alcoholic beverage.
Conclusions: Other studies suggest that the population drinking levels found in central and eastern Europe are linked with higher levels of detrimental health outcomes. Known effective and cost-effective programs to reduce levels of risky drinking should, therefore, be implemented, which may, in turn, lead to a reduction of alcohol-attributable burden of disease.