Drinking more beer and getting less exercise is a big reason why the world has fewer cars on the road than in previous decades, according to new research.
In a new paper published Tuesday in the journal Science, researchers found that beer consumption in the U.S. has declined since 2000, while drinking less exercise has increased.
In fact, the authors found that the percentage of people who drank more beer was actually higher in 2020 than in 1980, but it was still lower than it was in the early 1990s.
More than 10 percent of U.s. adults now drink beer or spirits less than once a week, compared with about 5 percent in 1980.
That means that people are drinking fewer hours of exercise a week and getting fewer exercise hours, the researchers found.
Beer and other alcohols are also getting more expensive, leading to a rise in the number of people taking advantage of the country’s low tax rate, the paper said.
And because they’re more expensive to produce, the tax break may be driving up alcohol consumption.
In general, researchers said that consumption of alcohol is falling worldwide, although the increase in the United States has been particularly pronounced.
“The global picture is much more nuanced than a single headline suggests,” said lead author Christopher R. Stott, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New Hampshire, who was not involved in the study.
“There are significant economic, social and health consequences of alcohol use.”
Alcohol is one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages, accounting for more than 80 percent of worldwide alcohol consumption and accounting for 10 percent or more of all deaths, according a report last year by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
“In the past few decades, the increase of alcohol consumption has accelerated as the quality of alcohol has improved,” the report said.
“Many countries have introduced laws to discourage consumption of beer and wine, and to increase the taxation of beer.”
For example, in Austria and Germany, a tax on beer sales, which are taxed separately from wine sales, was introduced in 2018.
The U.K. introduced a tax of 3 percent on all alcohol sales in 2021.
The tax is a small part of a larger strategy to curb alcohol use and promote public health, the report noted.
And some governments have adopted a broader approach to reduce the use of alcohol, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which have introduced limits on the amount of alcohol that can be consumed in public places.
The report said that the trend was likely to continue.
“We can expect a further reduction in alcohol consumption in many countries as countries move away from the consumption of highly taxed alcohol and the use, distribution and marketing of low quality alcohol,” the authors wrote.
The study did not examine the impact of changes in the way people drank in different parts of the globe, including in Europe.
The United States was the only country that had more than 1 million more beer drinkers than it did people who said they drank less beer in 2020, according the study, which was published in Science.
In the U-S., beer consumption fell by a staggering 42 percent between 2000 and 2010, while in other parts of Europe, it declined by only 3 percent, the study said.
Overall, alcohol consumption fell in nearly all countries studied.
And in some parts of Asia, the consumption rate dropped by about 30 percent.
That suggests the shift away from drinking is slowing, and that governments are trying to keep up with the pace of the growth of alcohol-related deaths, the scientists said.
They also noted that alcohol-use rates have been increasing in other countries, including Brazil, India, South Africa and Russia.
Alcohol-use-related fatalities in 2016 in the world are more than double those in 2010, according data from the World Health Organization.
But the number is likely to remain flat or decline, as governments and businesses adjust to the changes.
“It’s not a simple trend,” said Daniel A. Tumlinson, an associate professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who wasn’t involved in Tuesday’s study.
While alcohol-dependence was on the rise in some countries, alcohol-abuse treatment rates are still high.
And people are continuing to use alcohol even in countries that are trying harder to curb consumption, he said.
Alcohol is an addictive substance that can cause anxiety, confusion and even depression, and has been linked to a host of other health problems.
And alcohol use can also contribute to other diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and lung cancer, the CDC said.
The findings highlight the importance of reducing alcohol-drinking habits, the World Bank said.
More broadly, alcohol has become a major driver of inequality in the developing world, with wealthier countries paying more in taxes, helping to sustain inequality that can lead to poor outcomes in the long run, the group said.