In a commentary published in the Feb. 16 issue of the journal Nature, a health-policy expert argues the World Health Organization should regulate alcohol on a global level. Devi Sridhar of the University of Cambridge supports her argument with numbers, as alcohol kills more than 2.5 million people annually, more than AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis.

[Read full story]

Here's a look at global alcohol consumption, which is measured in terms of pure ethyl alcohol to compensate for the varying strengths of beer, wine and spirits. A liter bottle of wine with 10 percent alcohol, for example, would be only 0.1 liter of pure alcohol.

According to the WHO, Americans each drink 9.4 liters of ethyl alcohol per year on average. That's equivalent to 94 bottles of the aforementioned wine.

Top 20 countries based on annual beer-drinking for adults per capita (numbers given in liters of ethyl alcohol):

  • Czech Republic: 9.43
  • Ireland: 9.24
  • Swaziland: 7.48
  • Germany: 7.26
  • Austria: 6.42
  • Luxembourg: 6.16
  • Uganda: 6.14
  • Denmark: 6.02
  • United Kingdom: 5.97
  • Belgium: 5.90
  • Venezuela: 5.69
  • Lithuania: 5.53
  • Slovakia: 5.34
  • Australia: 5.20
  • Croatia: 5.16
  • Netherlands Antilles: 4.96
  • The Netherlands: 4.91
  • Finland: 4.89
  • United Republic of Tanzania: 4.85
  • Gabon: 4.77

Top 20 countries based on annual wine-drinking for adults per capita:

  • Luxembourg: 9.43
  • France: 8.38
  • Portugal: 7.16
  • Italy: 6.99
  • Croatia: 6.42
  • Switzerland: 6.23
  • Argentina: 5.63
  • Spain: 5.07
  • Bermuda: 4.95
  • Greece: 4.78
  • Denmark: 4.57
  • Austria: 4.47
  • Hungary: 4.47
  • Uruguray: 4.35
  • Germany: 3.38
  • Romania: 3.37
  • Chile: 3.25
  • French Polynesia: 3.10
  • Bulgaria: 3.05
  • Republic of Korea: 2.99

Top 20 countries based on annual spirits-drinking for adults per capita:

  • Republic of Moldova: 10.94
  • Reunion: 8.67
  • Russian Federation: 7.64
  • Saint Lucia: 7.27
  • Dominica: 7.20
  • Thailand: 7.13
  • Bahamas: 7.05
  • Lativa: 6.46
  • Belarus: 6.34
  • Lao People's Democratic Republic: 6.09
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: 6.03
  • Saint Vincent and Grenadines: 5.98
  • Dem. People's Republic of Korea: 5.48
  • Slovakia: 5.44
  • Grenada: 5.06
  • Lithuania: 4.92
  • Azerbaijan: 4.66
  • Kyrgyzstan: 4.61
  • Czech Republic: 4.41

(The data comes from the World Health Organization's Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004.)