Express press service
BHUBANESWAR: Even though the number of male drinkers has declined in Odisha over the past five years, female alcohol consumption has almost doubled over the period. According to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS), alcohol consumption among women over the age of 15 increased from 2.4% in 2015-16 to 4.3% in 2020-21.
However, it went down to 28.8% from 39.3% over the period in the case of men. Busting the myth that city dwellers drink more alcohol, the NFHS-5 revealed that men and women aged 15 and over in rural Odisha consume more alcohol than their urban counterparts.
The survey results indicate that 30.2% of rural men consume alcohol compared to 22.7% of urban men. Similarly, the number of male drinkers in urban areas of the state fell from 32.2% to 22.7%. In the case of women, the rural and urban share is 4.9% and 1.4% respectively.
Alarmingly, alcohol consumption among rural women increased from 2.6% to 4.9% while it decreased from 41.3% to 30.2% among men. However, there has been no significant change in alcohol consumption among urban women over the past five-year period, increasing by only 0.1% (from 1.3 % to 1.4%).
Not only alcohol, tobacco consumption by women has also increased significantly compared to men. While only 17.3% of women used tobacco in 2015-2016, at least 26% of women surveyed admitted to using tobacco now.
Here too, rural women are ahead of their urban counterparts since 26% of women in the villages use tobacco compared to 16.6% in the cities. The percentage of men who smoke increased from 55.9% to 51.6%. It goes from 58.8% to 54.1% in rural areas and from 45.3% to 40.5% in urban areas.
Health experts have said that the trend of rising alcohol consumption among women and falling among men in the state has various implications. A relatively lower proportion of the male population currently consuming alcohol compared to previous survey years could be the impact of targeted interventions on the primary prevention of alcohol use disorders, they said.
Secretary General of Milita Odisha Nishanibarana, Abhiyan Mamata Mohapatra, said alcohol consumption in rural areas is higher because tribal men and women have been consuming locally prepared alcohol (Handia) for ages. “Today it is aristocracy in the case of rich and worldly women. Maybe their numbers are increasing because they are frustrated with their lives and suffer from depression. They need the support of their families” , she added.