Over half of 30-year-old Finnish males at-risk drinkers
Many heavy users underestimate impact of consumption
Nearly two thirds of young men in Finland can be seen to consume too much alcohol. According to a study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, 63% of men aged 25-34 are at-risk drinkers.
Among women in the same age range, 30% are seen to drink excessively. The proportions decline with age among both men and women.
Alcohol consumption of young Finnish men wasdiscussed on Tuesday at a seminar of the Public Health Institute, where participants pondered ways to encourage timely intervention in cases in which drinking is getting out of hand. The number of at-risk drinkers was measured with a survey involving interviews with about 3,000 Finns.
Heavy consumption is fairly common in Finland, and most of those interviewed did not suspect that their drinking was excessive. "It did not occur to them what the implications were for themselves", said researcher Leena Heljälä of the Public Health Institute.
"The popular image of a person with an alcohol problem is that of a skid-row bum, but in fact, people should look themselves in the mirror."
Heljälä feels that alcohol consumption should be discussed more at the workplace, and during medical check-ups, so that those who consume too much might understand the consequences and moderate their consumption. Only one in three occupational health doctors routinely ask patients about their drinking habits.
A threshold for heavy consumption is considered to be 24 servings of alcohol a week for men and 16 for women. Even if the weekly limits are not exceeded, men who repeatedly consume seven servings of alcohol or more at a single sitting are considered heavy consumers. For women the limit is five servings.
Not all at-risk users necessarily have an actual "alcohol problem", but heavy drinking is a contributory factor in a number of diseases, and can also cause mood swings.
"Half of heavy consumers have neuropsychological problems, which they do not connect with alcohol", says occupational health care specialist Tiina Kaarne of the Occupational Health Institute.
She says that people drinking 24 servings a week can almost be promised negative effects on health.
Alcohol consumption has increased in recent years. In 2007 average per capita consumption among Finns was 10.5 litres of pure alcohol a year.
In 2005 alcohol became the most common cause of death for men of working age. "This is a significant matter for the competitiveness of the national economy", Kaarne ponders.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Ministry says alcohol poses a threat to Finnish internal security (16.4.2008)
Alcohol-induced dementia threatens ageing baby-boomers (11.4.2008)
One in ten Finnish women is heavy user of alcohol (31.3.2008)
Finnish alcohol consumption heads upwards again (5.3.2008)