Older Europeans drinking more: Swedish study

Charlotte Webb
Charlotte Webb - [email protected]
Older Europeans drinking more: Swedish study

Alcohol consumption is on the rise among older Europeans, according to a Swedish study, with researchers claiming that public health officials have been slow to react to the problem.


The study, carried out the Swedish National Institute of Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet), also found an increase in the prevalence of alcohol related illnesses amongst middle aged women in Sweden.

The result seems to contradict the prevailing trend of reduced alcohol consumption among most age groups in Sweden.

The study found an increase in alcohol -related fatalities among older individuals in at least seven of the 27 European Union countries surveyed.

The increasing number of older Swedish women admitted to hospital for alcohol related physical injuries and psychological conditions linked to increased alcohol consumption such as depression and anxiety, has caused concern among Swedish health care officials.

”We've lately received a number of worrying signals from the area of geriatric care, suggesting that this is a growing problem within the health care system,” health minister Maria Larsson told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

According to Larsson, past Swedish and European studies have often neglected to consider the consumption of alcohol amongst the elderly.

An expert conference commencing in Stockholm Tuesday under the auspices of Sweden’s European Union presidency hopes to rectify this oversight, with a number of seminars focusing specifically on strategies targeted towards the older population.

Folkhälsoinstitutet researcher Pi Högberg, who headed the study, also expressed concerns that authorities have largely ignored the elderly, suggesting that information pertaining to increased alcohol consumption amongst that demographic has been available for at least two years, but has yet to provoke a response from public health care officials.

“There is a clear tendency to ignore alcohol consumption amongst older groups,” Högberg told the newspaper.

“Authorities have always focused too exclusively on the drinking habits of the young.”

The current EU conference will focus on a number of related topics pertaining to alcohol consumption, including consumption and injuries amongst the elderly, the effect of marketing on alcohol related injuries and the impact of hazardous drinking for friends and family members of alcoholics.


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