In 2017, 15.9% of the Swiss population said that in the previous year, they had engaged in binge drinking at least once a month: 11.1% of women and 20.7% of men. Compared with 2007, this percentage (total 11.0%) has risen among men and women and in all age groups and language regions. Young people show this behaviour more often, peaking in the 20 to 24 year-old age group. In German and Romansh-speaking Switzerland, this share has risen by a third in ten years, in French-speaking Switzerland by two-thirds. In Italian-speaking Switzerland, the share doubled during this period, although this region had the lowest frequency of binge drinking in both 2007 and 2017.
This indicator is part of the Monitoring System Addiction and NCD (MonAM) of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).
Drinking large amounts of alcohol on one occasion (heavy episodic alcohol consumption, also known as binge drinking) is problematic as far as health is concerned. Acute consequences such as accidents, injuries, violence, damage to property and an increased risk of suicide are the main problems associated with this. Moderate alcohol consumption with binge drinking also increases the risk of coronary heart diseases compared with moderate alcohol consumption without binge drinking.
This indicator was calculated on the basis of data from the Swiss Health Survey (SHS) and is based on a combination of questions. It shows the share of persons aged 15 and older, living in private households, who in the previous 12 months drank 4 (for women) or five (for men) standard units of an alcoholic beverage on one occasion at least once a month. A standard unit (= one glass of beer/wine etc.) is equal to 10 to 12 g of pure alcohol.
Heavy episodic alcohol consumption is not uniformly defined at international level. Most countries use a threshold of 40 to 50 g (for women) and 50 to 60 g (for men) of pure alcohol on one occasion. That is the equivalent of roughly four standard units of an alcoholic drink for women and around five for men. Consumption above this threshold significantly increases one’s health risk. In its 2018 “Advice on alcohol consumption”, the Federal Commission for Alcohol-related issues (FCAL), recommends no more than one standard unit per day for healthy female adults and no more than two per day for healthy adult men as well as observing alcohol-free days every week.
In Switzerland the definition has been adapted several times in line with international developments. For this reason it is currently not possible to compare all years of the health survey.
An explanation of socio-demographic variables can be found in the document: Dimensions description
- Federal Statistical Office (FSO): Swiss Health Survey
- Advice on alcohol consumption – 2018 (June 2018). Federal Commission for Alcohol-related issues (FCAL), Berne: Factsheet (in German).
- Addiction Switzerland: Addiction Monitoring in Switzerland (Information in German and French)
- Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH): Website (Information in German, French and italian)
- Marthaler, M. (2013). Risks of alcohol-related disease and mortality, principles for advice on low-risk alcohol consumption. Addiction Switzerland, Lausanne: Study (in German).
Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Tel. +41 58 462 95 05