Alcohol Use Disorders (14) Alcohol consumption in Uruguay

5 February, 2024

Dear colleagues,

To continue breaking the ice, I would like to share information about alcohol consumption in my country, Uruguay.

Uruguay is a small South American country that was recently classified as high income by the World Bank.

According to PAHO, Uruguay has the highest per capita alcohol consumption in the region of the Americas, both in adults and young people, both in men and women.

In adults, the general average is 10.9 liters of alcohol, in men it is 17.1 liters and in women it is 5.3 liters. In young people, the general average per capita is 7.1 liters, in men it is 9.6 liters and in women it is 4.6 liters. (1)

According to the Ministry of Health of Uruguay, annual alcohol consumption is distributed as follows: 44% wine, 35% beer and 21% distilled spirits. It is estimated that an average person in Uruguay drinks 77 liters of beer, 41 liters of wine and 6 liters of distilled spirits per year. (2)

The average alcohol consumption in Uruguay is higher than the world average. (3)

Uruguay is also the country in the Americas with the highest episodic excessive alcohol consumption, defined as the consumption of at least 5 standard units of drink per occasion, once a month. In 2016, this type of consumption was observed in 39.7% of men and 10.5% of women. According to WHO, 9.6% of men and 3.4% of women in Uruguay have an alcohol use disorder. (4)

At the base of this is a low perception of risk with respect to alcohol, especially at early ages, and social permissiveness of adolescent consumption despite the clear evidence that the earlier one begins to drink alcohol, the greater the risk of problematic consumption. (5)

Unfortunately, at the national level, alcohol control policies are weak, with the exception of a “zero alcohol” policy while driving.

All of which determines that alcohol consumption is a serious problem in Uruguayan society, which is not being properly addressed.

We encourage you to share what is the situation in your country and, if you dare, some personal or professional experience linked to alcohol.


1. Regional Status Report on Alcohol and Health in the Americas, 2020. PAHO.

2. MSP communication.

3. WHO (2019)


5. Communication from the Ministry of Health.


*Dr. Eduardo Bianco*

*Director, Addiction Training Program for Health Professionals (ATHP)*


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HIFA profile: Eduardo Bianco is a medical doctor and Cardiologist, Certified Tobacco Cessation Expert with a Masters in Prevention and Treatment of Addictive Disorders. Currently, he is Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group. Dr. Biancos research examines tobacco control and cessation, and he is a prominent member of several organizations that address tobacco control in Latin America. Dr. Bianco has worked for 25 years in Uruguay and Latin America to promote and train in smoking cessation treatment and tobacco control policies. He is also the former Regional Coordinator for the Americas of the Framework Convention Alliance and former Technical Director of the MOH Center for International Cooperation for Tobacco. ebianco AT