Alcohol Use Disorders (141) Alcohol consumption in different countries (5) Alcohol consumption in Portugal and Sweden

13 March, 2024

Hello everyone,

I haven't had the opportunity to introduce myself earlier. My name is Ana Rita Oliveira, I am Portuguese, and I have a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Pharmacy. Currently, I am pursuing a second Master's degree in Public Health in Sweden, and I would like to share some information regarding alcohol use in Portugal and the contrasting attitudes towards alcohol culture when comparing Portugal and Sweden.

Among countries in the European Union, Portugal has the highest percentage of the population (around 20%) consuming alcoholic beverages daily. According to GISAH – WHO Global Information System on Alcohol and Health, in 2016, the alcohol consumption per person over 15 years of age in Portugal was 12 liters of pure alcohol annually, roughly equivalent to 4.6 liters of beer per week. In 2018, Portugal was shown to have the highest wine consumption in the world, with an average consumption of 62 liters per inhabitant per year, and the prevalence of alcohol dependence increased from 3% in 2012 to 4.2% in 2022, according to the Portuguese Society of Alcoology.

In Portugal, many still believe that alcohol, especially wine, is good for health, but often overlook the risks. This raises concerns about how cultural beliefs can overshadow health considerations.

In contrast, in Sweden, there's a notable emphasis on responsible alcohol consumption and a strong awareness of the risks associated with excessive drinking. The Swedish government has implemented strict regulations, such as high taxes and limited availability through state-owned alcohol retailers (Systembolaget), to mitigate alcohol-related harm. The per capita consumption was about 8.8 liters of pure alcohol per person (15+ years) in 2022, and youth drinking has been declining for two decades in Sweden. Despite this progress, the majority of young people in Sweden still consume alcohol, which can lead to dire consequences.

In conclusion, while Sweden demonstrates more promising outcomes in managing alcohol consumption, there remains a need for changing action in both countries. From my perspective, it's important that both Portugal and Sweden prioritize initiatives to raise awareness, enforce regulations, and foster healthier attitudes towards alcohol to safeguard public health.

Kind Regards,

Ana Rita

HIFA profile: Ana Rita Primo Ferreira Oliveira é mestranda em Saúde Pública na Universidade de Lund, Suécia. Licenciada em Farmácia e Mestre em Farmacoterapia e Farmacoepidemiologia (BPharm, MPharm) e Medical Information Specialist.