Per capita alcohol consumption in Australia: will the real trend please step forward?

Tanya N Chikritzhs, Steve J Allsop, A Rob Moodie and Wayne D Hall
Med J Aust 2010; 193 (10): 594-597.



Design and setting: With the use of data obtained from Australian Bureau of Statistics’ catalogues and World Advertising Research Centre reports, three alternative series of annual totals of PCC of alcohol for the past 20 years (1990–91 to 2008–09) were estimated based on different assumptions about the alcohol content of wine. For the “old” series, the alcohol content of wine was assumed to have been stable over time. For the “new” series, the alcohol content of wine was assumed to have increased once in 2004–05 and then to have remained stable to 2008–09. For the “adjusted” series, the alcohol content of wine was assumed to have gradually increased over time, beginning in 1998–99. Linear trend analysis was applied to identify significant trends.

Main outcomes measure: National trend in annual PCC of alcohol 1990–91 to 2008–09.

Results: The new and adjusted series of annual totals of PCC of alcohol showed increasing trends; the old series was stable.

Conclusions: Until recently, official national annual totals of PCC of alcohol were underestimated and led to the mistaken impression that levels of alcohol consumption had been stable since the early 1990s. In fact, Australia’s total PCC has been increasing significantly over time because of a gradual increase in the alcohol content and market share of wine and is now at one of its highest points since 1991–92. This new information is consistent with evidence of increasing alcohol-related harm and highlights the need for timely and accurate data on alcohol sales and harms across Australia.

  • Tanya N Chikritzhs1
  • Steve J Allsop1
  • A Rob Moodie2
  • Wayne D Hall3

  • 1 Curtin University of Technology, National Drug Research Institute, Perth, WA.
  • 2 Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Centre for Clinical Research, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD.


Our thanks to Dr Michaela Evans (National Drug Research Institute) for her assistance in preparing this manuscript and her editorial comments.

Competing interests:

Tanya Chikritzhs and Steve Allsop are employed by the National Drug Research Institute, which is funded by the National Drug Strategy, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. Rob Moodie is Chair of the national Preventative Health Taskforce. Wayne Hall is an Australia Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council. The topic, direction, content, analyses and issues identified in the article were solely the work of the authors and there was no intellectual involvement either directly or indirectly by any of these institutions.


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