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Per capita alcohol consumption in China soared by almost 76 percent between 2005 and 2016, causing increasing health consequences, according to a report by the World Health Organization.
In contrast to China and India, consumption of alcohol in many other countries remained stable or declined during the period, according to the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018.
Global per capita consumption of the alcohol content in beverages stood at 6.4 liters in 2016, the same level as in 2010. Europe had the highest per capita consumption in the world, even though its per capita consumption decreased by more than 10 percent since 2010, according to the report.
In China, the figure rose from 4.1 liters in 2005 to 7.1 liters in 2010 and 7.2 liters in 2016, while in India it rose from 2.4 liters in 2005 to 4.3 liters in 2010 and 5.7 liters in 2016.
"Current trends and projections point to an expected increase in global per capita alcohol consumption over the next 10 years, particularly in South Asia, the Western Pacific region and the Americas. These regions include the highly populated countries of China and India," the WHO China office said in a statement on Tuesday.
It said that as societies become more affluent there is a strong tendency for alcohol consumption to increase. The greatest rise is expected in South Asia, with an increase of 2.2 liters per capita in India alone expected by 2028.
The second-highest increase is projected for the Western Pacific region, where China makes up the largest population and will see an increase in per capita consumption of 0.9 liters of alcohol by 2025, it said.
Increasing consumption of alcohol has caused a rise in hospital visits for liver disease in China, the WHO report said, citing a study by Beijing-based 302 Military Hospital of China that showed the proportion of alcohol-related liver disease cases more than doubling among all liver cases in the hospital between 2002 and 2013.
Lu Lin, president of Peking University Sixth Hospital, said alcohol abuse is a leading cause of a number of diseases, including many types of liver ailments and cancers.
"Many people are addicted to alcohol and cannot resist drinking every day," he said.
"An increasing number of hospitals have established special departments to help those with alcohol dependency quit drinking."
Xu Jinghang, a physician at Peking University First Hospital, said the traditional "liquor culture" in China has caused rising rates of fatty liver ailments in many areas in China in recent years, and younger patients are increasingly affected.
"Currently, there are no effective drugs that cure alcohol-related fatty liver issues, so quitting drinking is the most effective intervention," he said.
The WHO statement said, "Given the trend in China, there is a need to build on existing regulations and develop a legal framework to strengthen taxes on alcoholic beverages, restrict the physical availability of retailed alcohol and totally ban alcohol advertisements."
All countries can do much more to reduce the health and social costs of alcohol abuse, it said.
Higher-income countries are more likely to have introduced these policies and therefore have observed a reduction in per capita alcohol consumption, it said.