Fewer Indians drinking since 2015, finds study

NEW DELHI: A study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism suggests that Indian men who drink are doing so more often, comparing trends from the National Family Health Survey conducted in 2019-21 and 2015-16.
Among the men who said they drank, 15.4% said they used alcohol ‘almost every day’ in the latest survey, 43.5% ‘about once a week’ and 41% ‘less than once a week’. In 2015-16, 12.4% of male respondents said they drank almost every day while 40.6% said they drank about once a week. Among women, the study found, 16.9% said they drank ‘almost every day’ in the latest survey. The proportion of those using alcohol ‘about once a week’ and ‘less than once a week’ was 36.6 and 46.6% respectively, the study found. The first two categories registered a fall compared to the 2015-16 survey.


“It is a positive sign that fewer people are drinking. But, the study shows how the frequency of drinking among those who consume alcohol has gone up. This needs to be checked to prevent alcohol-related problems,” Dr Yatanpal Singh Balhara, one of the authors of the study, told TOI.
The states of Gujarat (at the time of both NFHS-4 and NFHS-5) and Bihar (at the time of NFHS-5), and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep (at the time of both NFHS-4 and NFHS-5) had prohibition of alcohol consumption.
According to the study report, 0.4% men in Lakshadweep said they drink while none of the women reported alcohol use. In the state of Bihar, 15.5% of men and 0.4% of women reported current use of alcohol. The proportions were 5.8 and 0.6% for men and women, respectively for Gujarat, according to the study.
“Although there has been a reduction in the proportion of Indian men and women who reported alcohol use between NFHS-4 and NFHS-5, the increase in the proportion of men who reported alcohol use ‘almost every day’ is a finding that requires greater focus and the intervention. There is a need to strengthen the investment in the initiatives targeted at the harms due to alcohol use,” the researchers say.

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