A Deakin University study, funded by VicHealth, shows significant economic savings and health benefits could be achieved if Australian adults cut their alcohol consumption by 3.4 litres a year.
Deakin health economists, working with researchers with the National Stroke Research Institute, estimated the economic savings and health benefits from reducing alcohol consumption in Australia.
They found that a 3.4 litre cut per adult per year could result in a $789m annual saving to the health sector and in one-third fewer cases of alcohol related disease (such as alcohol dependence, suicides, injuries and cancers), deaths and working days lost.
Anne Magnus, a senior research fellow with Deakin’s Population Health Strategic Research Centre, said: “Excessive alcohol consumption is a global health issue, with around 13% of the Australian adult population having long term drinking problems.
“Through this study we calculated the potential economic and health benefits if a realistic reduction in alcohol consumption were achieved, which is an important consideration in light of the current political and policy interest in Australia, and overseas.
“We found that considerable economic and health benefits could be gained if Australian adults drank an average of five standard drinks less each week. This is equivalent to three-four less glasses (150ml) of wine or four-six less cans (375ml) of beer (full to light strength respectively) each week.”
They found potential cost savings of $789 in the health sector, $427m in workforce productivity and $21m in home-based productivity.
These savings were due to 98,000 (35%) less cases of disease and 380 (38%) less deaths related to long term high risk levels of alcohol consumption and 21,000 (34%) less healthy years of life lost as a result of this risk factor.