Study: Germany identifies measures to reduce alcohol consumption

New research published in the journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice identified measures that could improve alcohol health literacy (AHL) and lower alcohol consumption in Germany, where per capita alcohol consumption is higher than the global and European averages, contributing to substantial alcohol-attributable morbidity. In order to determine measures that could improve AHL and lower alcohol consumption, education, health care, and policy were examined by the authors as three main areas of concern.

AHL currently remains low in Germany, especially among vulnerable groups. After examining existing research and scientific literature, this review study’s authors provided 11 recommendations to improve AHL and reduce alcohol consumption in Germany, with four of them pertaining to education and information measures. These research findings highlight the importance of integrating alcohol strategies to sustainably improve AHL and reduce alcohol consumption. Moreover, the authors noted that any measures taken to reduce the societal alcohol burden should not stigmatize individuals who consume alcohol or have alcohol use disorders.

The study determined that for educational alcohol prevention programs to be effective, they must be tailored to focus on appropriate goals, including delaying the onset of alcohol use for younger people. In addition, despite such education-based measures effectively increasing individuals’ knowledge regarding alcohol consumption, they did not have an effect on alcohol consumption.

Furthermore, alcohol control policy measures, such as alcohol taxes, were found to be most effective in decreasing actual alcohol consumption, albeit having a small impact on AHL. While the reviewers made study recommendations for Germany, these could also apply to other countries, including Central-Western European countries with similar cultures and economies.

Other recommendations outlined in the study include adding health labels on containers of alcoholic beverages, providing easily-accessible information about alcohol use such as public campaigns, implementing alcohol screenings and subsequent feedback and/or intervention in routine health checks for persons aged 35 and older, reduction in the availability of alcoholic beverages, and introducing bans on alcohol advertising.

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