Israelis consume on average far less alcohol than their European counterparts, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Israelis averaged about three liters per year in 2012, far below the OECD average of 9 liters per capita. Estonia led the list with 12.5, followed by Austria, France, Ireland and the Czech Republic. Only India, Turkey and Indonesia experienced lower consumption rates among the 40 countries in the study.
On the other hand, Israel ranked fifth out of 40 in the change in alcohol consumption between 1992 and 2012, when per capita consumption increased over 50%.
Among the key findings of the report were that average annual consumption in OECD countries is the equivalent of 9.1 liters of pure alcohol per capita, down by 2.5%, on average, during the past 20 years; that the proportion of children aged 15 and under who have not yet drunk alcohol shrunk during the 2000s while the proportion of these children who have experienced drunkenness increased in the same period; and that people with more education and higher socioeconomic status are more likely to drink alcohol while "people from minority ethnic groups drink less alcohol than the majority of the population, but with important exceptions in some countries."
According to the report, based on World Health Organization data, the drinking patterns in Israel rated second least risky behavior on a scale from one to five.
About one third (3.8 liters per capita) of the alcohol drunk in OECD countries is beer, while 25% is wine (2.8 liters per capita) and the rest spirits, unrecorded or other. According to WHO data, the Israeli breakdown is 50% spirits, 44% beer and 6% wine.
The WHO data also indicated that alcohol consumption contributed to deaths in Israel at a rate lower than all other countries in the study.
The researchers reported a number of worrying trends, without singling out any countries.
"The proportion of girls and boys aged under 15 who have consumed alcohol is rising, and girls are now almost as likely as boys to have tired drinking," read the report. "The proportion of children who have experienced drunkenness has risen for both sexes to over 40%. This risks compounding another worrying trend in the future: levels of hazardous and binge drinking among younger people are rising, notably for young women in some countries, while they have declined or at least remained stable in older age groups.
The report noted that the Knesset approved a law that took effect last year limiting the advertising and marketing of alcohol products. Inn addition Israel reformed its taxation of alcohol.
"The reform increased the tax per liter of alcohol content from 21.28 shekels to 105 shekels, irrespective of the pre-tax price of the product, thereby aiming at increasing the price of relatively cheap, high-alcohol products," according to the report.
"The effects of these parallel reforms are to be assessed in the next couple of years."