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NL had highest proportion of heavy drinkers in 2015: Statistics Canada

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According a Statistics Canada report on heavy drinking across the country in 2015, Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest proportion of residents who reported alcohol consumption that classified them as heavy drinkers.

The numbers were obtained through a Canadian community health survey in 2015.

The survey found that 19.2 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older — or roughly 5.8 million people — reported alcohol consumption that classified them as heavy drinkers. Overall, males were more likely (24.1 per cent) to report heavy drinking than females (14.5 per cent). The highest proportion of heavy drinking for both sexes was among those aged 18 to 34. In this age group, 36.2 per cent of males and 24.9 per cent of females were heavy drinkers.

Newfoundland and Labrador came in at 25.6 per cent compared to the national average of 19.2 per cent. Quebec was next at 20.2 per cent followed by Saskatchewan at 21.7 per cent.

The proportion of residents who reported heavy drinking was lower than the national average was in British Columbia at 17.3 per cent. All other provinces came in the same as the national average.

The report points out that, given that it is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under 18 in Canada, the amount of heavy drinking among 12 to 17 year olds is expectedly low (4.1 per cent). Despite the laws that prevent underage drinking, youth are still able to consume alcoholic beverages. In 2015, 74.9 per cent of Canadian youth drank an alcoholic beverage in the previous 12 months and 40.8 per cent of them did so at least once a month.

The 2015 Canadian community health survey also included questions on alcohol use during the last week.

Of the 5.8 million heavy drinkers in 2015, 73.1 per cent reported a level of alcohol consumption in the last week that put their long-term health at risk. Among Canadians who were not heavy drinkers, more than half (53.6 per cent) reported a level of consumption in the last week that poses long-term risks. On average, Canadians who were classified as heavy drinkers had 9.8 drinks in the past week, compared to non-heavy drinkers who consumed 1.6 drinks. 


Statistics Canada states that excessive alcohol consumption can have serious health and social consequences, especially when combined with other behaviours such as driving while intoxicated. For males, heavy drinking refers to having consumed five or more drinks per occasion, at least once a month during the past year. For females, heavy drinking refers to having consumed four or more drinks per occasion, at least once a month during the past year.

According to Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, long-term risks for alcohol consumption are liver disease and certain cancers. Males are classified at risk if they had more than 15 drinks in the week of reporting or at least one day with four or more drinks. Females are classified at risk if they had more than 10 drinks in the week of reporting or at least one day with three or more drinks.

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