Gender and Regional Pattern of Alcohol Use and Projection of Problematic Drinking in India, 1998-2016
Purpose of the Study
Alcohol use is the third leading risk factor for premature mortality. India is one of the largest markets for alcoholic beverages. Existing research in India is localized to specific settings lacking national generalizability. The present study aims to estimate the trends in alcohol use in India by gender and regions and estimate the current projected number of population with an alcohol problem.
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is used to estimate the age-standardized alcohol prevalence by gender and region. World Bank 2019 population estimates is used to estimate the total population currently having an alcohol problem using the recent alcohol prevalence estimates.
Nationally, the age standardized prevalence of alcohol use increased between 1998-99 and 2005-06 and declined thereafter, being higher among men than women. Exception to the declines after 2005, is seen in some regions where alcohol use still increases. A 43.6% increase and 8.5% decrease in the age-standardized prevalence of alcohol problems is observed among men and women respectively between 2005-06 and 2015-16. However, alcohol problems increase in some regions for both men and women. 103.62 million men and 3.34 million women in India had an alcohol problem during 2019, being highest among men aged 40-44 years and among women aged 45-49 years.
Despite the overall progress India made in reducing its alcohol prevalence, lowering it further remains a public health priority. Substantial rise in the prevalence of alcohol problems among the population which warrants immediate action. Spreading knowledge and awareness about the negative health effects of having an alcohol problem among the adult population seems necessary. Strict implementation of policies, would therefore, not only aid to reduce the prevalence of alcohol use and alcohol problems, but, in turn, would also help to reduce the burden of alcohol-related morbidity and associated mortality in India.