There are many products on the market to treat hangover, however, the majority of them focus on the alleviation of symptoms that occur the next day, as opposed to preventing them from happening in the first place.

We know that in 2016 alone, hangovers were responsible for 11.5 million “sick days” at a cost of $3 billion dollars to the Australian economy. Similarly, in the UK 17 million working days each year are lost due to alcohol-related sickness, with a total cost to the economy of 7.3 billion pounds. Alcohol related absenteeism and poor job performance also reportedly cost the US economy 148 billion dollars annually.

World Health Organization and Global status report on alcohol and health 2014

Globally, harmful use of alcohol causes approximately 3.3 million deaths every year (or 5.9% of all deaths), and 5.1% of the global burden of disease is attributable to alcohol consumption.

Alcohol consumption

Worldwide consumption in 2010 was equal to 6.2 litres of pure alcohol consumed per person aged 15 years or older, which translates into 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day.

A quarter of this consumption (24.8%) was unrecorded, i.e., homemade alcohol, illegally produced or sold outside normal government controls. Of total recorded alcohol consumed worldwide, 50.1% was consumed in the form of spirits.

Worldwide 61.7% of the population aged 15 years or older (15+) had not drunk alcohol in the past 12 months. In all WHO regions, females are more often lifetime abstainers than males. There is a considerable variation in prevalence of abstention across WHO regions.

Worldwide about 16.0% of drinkers aged 15 years or older engage in heavy episodic drinking.

In general, the greater the economic wealth of a country, the more alcohol is consumed and the smaller the number of abstainers. As a rule, high-income countries have the highest alcohol per capita consumption (APC) and the highest prevalence of heavy episodic drinking among drinkers.

Health consequences

In 2012, about 3.3 million deaths, or 5.9% of all global deaths, were attributable to alcohol consumption.

There are significant sex differences in the proportion of global deaths attributable to alcohol, for example, in 2012 7.6% of deaths among males and 4.0% of deaths among females were attributable to alcohol.

In 2012 139 million DALYs (disability-adjusted life years), or 5.1% of the global burden  disease and injury, were attributable to alcohol consumption.

There is also wide geographical variation in the proportion of alcohol-attributable deaths and DALYs, with the highest alcohol-attributable fractions reported in the WHO European Region.

Alcohol Usage in Australia

Alcohol consumption in Australia is relatively high, even though it has been dropping over the past few years. In a population of ~24 million people, there are approx. 1.1 million people who drink alcohol on a daily basis in Australia. Older people in Australia seem to have increased their use of alcohol on a more regular basis. In contrast, fewer people aged 12–17 are drinking alcohol and the proportion abstaining from alcohol increased significantly since 2010 (from 64% to 72%). Younger people are continuing to delay starting drinking. The age at which 14–24 year olds first tried alcohol has increased since 1998 from 14.4 to 15.7 years in 2013. This has probably occurred due to social factors and the greater awareness of alcohol-related issues in younger people. Males were twice as likely as females to undertake binge drinking (26% and 10%, respectively). Men in their late 20s and 40s were most likely to drink at risky levels (32%), while for women the riskiest cohort is aged 18–24 (14.6%). People aged 18–39 were less likely to drink alcohol in risky quantities in 2013 compared to 2001, but between 2001 and 2013, there was little change in the risky consumption of alcohol among people aged 40 or older with a similar proportion exceeding both the lifetime risk and single occasion risk guidelines. Although 1 in 6 (15.6%) people in Australia had consumed 11 or more standard drinks on a single drinking occasion in the past 12 months, this was slightly lower than in 2010 (16.8%).

National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013 conducted by the Australian Government’s Institute of Health and Welfare

Activities done in the past 12 months while under the influence of alcohol, recent drinkers(a) aged 14 years or older, by sex, 2007 to 2013 (per cent) – National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013 conducted by the Australian Government’s Institute of Health and Welfare

Binge drinking is prevalent most in men in their 20s and 40s years of age with 1 in 6 Australian having drunk excess amounts of alcohol within the past 12 months. Binge drinking occurs mainly with Australian males and most in the 35-64 years old age group. Additionally, at least 1 in 5 Australian undertook a harmful activity after drinking alcohol, for example, driving a motor vehicle, going swimming or physically or verbally abused someone. It appears that Australians want to go about their daily lives even after drinking the day before.

Alcohol Usage & Competitive Landscape in China

Drinking alcohol is acceptable in Chinese culture,, but the social impact and health effects of excessive drinking are starting to get some attention from medical researchers. The South China Morning Post has described drinking in China as follows: “Drinking alcohol has been widely accepted as an important aspect of the culture in China for thousands of years; it has been seen as a symbol of happiness and celebration of special events or festivals, and one of the most effective ways of building links within families, relatives, friends, and business relationships”. Alcohol consumption in the Chinese market is increasing as disposable wealth increases.

The World Health Organisation statistics show that alcohol consumption in China is increasing with the average consumption of 6.7 litres of alcohol consumed per capita in 2010 up from 4.9 litres per capita in 2005. Five times more alcohol on average is consumed by males compared to females. Binge drinking is significantly prevalent in males compared to females. Overall, 7.6% (approx. 76.72 million people) in China have a problem of binge drinking. The total estimated population that consumes alcohol is estimated at approximately 435.89 million people (43.18% of the population).

Alcohol consumption is only expected to increase over time in China as a greater percentage of population urbanises and as the consumption power and wages of the Chinese population increases over time. Research also suggests that Chinese people drink more alcohol than their counterparts in Australia, UK, Germany and the USA. The graph 10 below shows how alcohol consumption is increasing in China and catching up to those in other developed countries over the decades. There has been a significant increase in alcohol consumption mainly since 2005.

Alcohol Usage & Competitive Landscape in the UK

The United Kingdom – with a population of ~65 million- is a major market, where ~ 27 million people drink at least 1 alcoholic drink per day. Alcohol consumption – often in excess – is an aspect of Anglo-Saxon culture (evident also in the USA, Canada, Australia etc.), that is also prevalent in Europe (especially France, Italy and Germany). Binge drinking is an increasing issue in the UK, with ~4.6 million people, who drink alcohol “excessively”, which is defined as least 14 units of alcohol daily. Binge drinking correlates strongly to the daily alcohol consumption rates of males and females in the 15-64 years old age group. Based on these statistics, the target market are both males and females in the 15-64 years old age group, especially in England and Scotland region.

UK alcohol users have also been analysed based on their income levels in an Office of National Statistics Alcohol Survey in 2014, and the bar charts below show how much drinking increases as income levels rise in the UK.