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One in five Swedes unaware that early alcohol initiation increases risk of future alcohol problems


Anna Raninen

06.12.2023 - A recent survey conducted by Novus reveals that many Swedes are not aware of the long-term risks associated with alcohol consumption. The study also highlights variations in knowledge across different counties.


The Alcohol Index is a composite measure of Swedes' attitudes towards intoxication, and the survey has been conducted annually since 2010. This year's survey also included questions about public knowledge of the consequences of alcohol, based on the information texts found in alcohol advertisements.


'While it is commonly known in Sweden that alcohol can be harmful and addictive, as evidenced by this year's results, every fifth person (21 percent) is unaware that an early initiation into alcohol increases the risk of alcohol problems, and only half agree that alcohol can cause cancer,' says Anna Raninen, head of alcohol research at Systembolaget.


The survey also shows regional differences. For example, in Västerbotten, only 15 percent of respondents were unaware that early alcohol initiation increases the risk of alcohol problems, compared to 21 percent nationally. This indicates the need to improve knowledge on a national level, and that some counties have a greater need for increased awareness than others.


'Part of Systembolaget's mission is to inform about the harmful effects of alcohol, so it is important for us to know what knowledge the population has,' says Anna Raninen.


This year's survey also reveals that:


  • The Alcohol Index has decreased over time, and Swedes' attitudes towards binge drinking are the most permissive since the index was first measured in 2010.

  • Those living in metropolitan areas have a more permissive attitude towards binge drinking compared to those in rural areas.

  • Those with low knowledge about the risks of early-age alcohol consumption are also more permissive towards allowing their children to consume alcohol.


About the Survey


The survey was conducted with 4,921 respondents from May 17 to 31, 2023.


The Alcohol Index is a composite measure of Swedes' attitudes towards alcohol, with an emphasis on binge drinking, and consists of the average value of seven questions. A high value on the Alcohol Index indicates a more restrictive stance towards binge drinking. The index value for 2023 is 59.5, compared to 60.00 for 2022. The change is not significant. Part of Systembolaget's mission from the state is to measure the Alcohol Index.


In addition to questions about the Alcohol Index and the consequences of alcohol, questions were also asked about alcohol in different contexts and about attitudes towards societal measures to reduce alcohol consumption."


Alkoholindex 2023:

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