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Experts discover key measures to cut back alcohol consumption in Germany

Experts discover key measures to cut back alcohol consumption in Germany

In a recent article published within the journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, researchers discover measures that improve alcohol health literacy (AHL) and lower alcohol consumption in Germany.

Study: Improving alcohol health literacy and reducing alcohol consumption: recommendations for Germany. Image Credit: Oleksandra Naumenko / Shutterstock.com


In accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO), two primary determinants of alcohol use are the provision and affordability of alcoholic products. Theoretically, these appear easy to administer by modulating policy; nonetheless, practically, these aspects require public and political support.

A sustainable reduction of alcohol consumption requires changing a person’s risk perception and social norms, alongside reducing their availability and affordability. For instance, increasing awareness that alcohol use is a risk factor for cancer could help increase support for alcohol control policies.

Apart from a couple of countries, most countries haven’t made significant progress in reducing alcohol consumption and, in consequence, often report a high prevalence of alcohol users. Notably, alcohol consumption is extremely prevalent in most middle- and high-income countries.

The core AHL attributes, which include the capability to process and understand knowledge about alcohol content, strengths, units, and harm, could develop into a vehicle for the sustainable reduction of alcohol use. These characteristics are embedded in social and systemic environments called antecedents, which facilitate or limit the establishment of low-risk alcohol use patterns or abstinence.

Concerning the study

In the present study, the authors searched PubMed using keywords like ‘affordability’ to derive recommendations for improving AHL. For education, health care, and policy, the researchers invited five experts to review the derived recommendations.

The reviewers rated the recommendations based on their likely impact on AHL and reducing alcohol consumption. Inter-rater agreement was assessed using a two-way intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC).

The researchers selected Germany as a goal for the measures to enhance AHL for several reasons. While other European countries have implemented strict alcohol control policies to cut back alcohol consumption, Germany has not.

In truth, the per capita alcohol consumption in Germany is above the worldwide and European averages, thereby leading to substantial alcohol-attributable morbidity. Despite its high financial burden on the German population, general health literacy, including AHL, stays low in Germany, especially amongst vulnerable groups.

Study findings

A complete of 11 recommendations were found to strengthen AHL and reduce alcohol consumption in Germany. 4 of those recommendations were related to education and data measures.

‘Unplugged’, for instance, is a school-based alcohol prevention program in Europe that gives knowledge and skills related to AHL in a series of 12 sessions delivered over one yr. One other intervention example is “Klar bleiben,” which translates to “stay clear” in German, which involves students committing to not engaging in heavy drinking, even occasionally, for nine weeks and discussing alcohol-related topics amongst themselves.

While such programs critically reflected on alcohol promoting, they have to be tailored to formulate appropriate goals, resembling delaying the onset of alcohol use for younger people. Moreover, although these education-based measures effectively raised individual competencies concerning alcohol consumption, they didn’t affect alcohol consumption.

Alcohol control policy measures, resembling alcohol taxes, were found to be simplest in reducing actual alcohol consumption; nonetheless, they’d a low impact on AHL. The reviewers made study recommendations for Germany; nonetheless, these could also apply to other nations, resembling Central-Western European countries with similar cultures and economies.

The present study highlighted AHL as a separate entity from alcohol consumption. To this end, programs targeting the enhancement of AHL give attention to psychological concepts, like awareness, whereas the assessment of alcohol control policies focuses on alcohol sales and population-level health outcomes. Because these two areas of motion operate in solitude, their efficacy is proscribed.

One reviewed study proposed the importance of accelerating public awareness that alcohol is related to various social and health risks. This educational approach could facilitate the training of risk awareness skills that might help achieve adherence to stricter alcohol control policies.

Unfortunately, the authors couldn’t find empirical evidence of how these policies interact with education-based awareness measures or whether to mix these two areas of research.


The study findings emphasize the importance of integrating alcohol strategies to sustainably improve AHL and reduce alcohol consumption. Importantly, any measure targeted to cut back the societal alcohol burden mustn’t stigmatize individuals who devour alcohol or have alcohol use disorders.

Journal reference:

  • Manthey, J., Kokole, D., Riedel-Heller, S. et al. (2023). Improving alcohol health literacy and reducing alcohol consumption: recommendations for Germany. Addiction, Science, and Clinical Practice 18(28). doi:10.1186/s13722-023-00383-0


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