When considering the world's worst killers, alcohol likely doesn't come to mind. Yet alcohol kills more than 2.5 million people annually, more than AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis.
For middle-income people, who constitute half the world's population, alcohol is the top health risk factor, greater than obesity, inactivity and even tobacco.
The World Health Organization has meticulously documented the extent of alcohol abuse in recent years and has published solid recommendations on how to reduce alcohol-related deaths, but this doesn't go far enough, according to Devi Sridhar, a health-policy expert at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
In a commentary appearing today (Feb. 15) in the journal Nature, Sridhar argues that the WHO should regulate alcohol at the global level, enforcing such regulations as a minimum drinking age, zero-tolerance drunken driving, and bans on unlimited drink specials. Abiding by the regulations would be mandatory for the WHO's 194 member states."
"According to the WHO, Americans each drink 9.4 liters of ethyl alcohol per year on average. That's equivalent to 94 bottles of the aforementioned wine. [See list of top 20 booze-consuming countries]"
However Americans don't even crack the top 50 on the world charts.