Friday 7 December 2018

The whole population approach doesn't work

The latest stats on alcohol-related mortality were published this week. According to the Whole Population Approach beloved of temperance/'public health' campaigners, a significant decline in alcohol consumption must lead to a commensurate fall in alcohol-related deaths.

It's what the World Health Organisation believes:

... lowering the population mean for alcohol consumption will also predictably reduce the number of people suffering from alcohol abuse.

And it is the official policy in Scotland and Ireland. As Alcohol Focus Scotland say (emphasis in the original):

The specific outcome of the Scottish Government’s alcohol strategy is to achieve a reduction in overall alcohol consumption.

Moreover, the theory suggests that reductions in mortality should happen rapidly because the 'lag effect' is minimal. Some benefits are apparent almost immediately, other take no more than a few years.

It is now 14 years since per capita alcohol consumption peaked in the UK. According to the latest BBPA figures, consumption among people aged 15+ fell from 11.6 litres to 9.7 litres between 2004 and 2017. This is a fall of 16.4 per cent.

So how has the biggest decline in drinking since the war impacted alcohol-related mortality?

Age-standardised alcohol-specific death rates per 100,000 people (UK)

2004:  11.5

2017: 12.2

Can we put this myth to bed now?

No comments: