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Alcohol use may increase the risk of COVID-19 infection and of its severe complications while also causing other medical and social problems that burden healthcare and other services.

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In Australia, four friends launched the non-alcoholic beer company “Heaps Normal” amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They have already raised $1.3 million from investors, including prominent start-up founders and are looking to grow their business further.

The friends decided to launch the company as they realized all of them want to reduce their alcohol use – for vastly different reasons. This led to the name of the company representing the many people who want to choose alcohol-free for numerous reasons. They also hope to change the harmful alcohol norm in Australia with a product which relates to Australians.

The four of us have experienced that Australia has a bit of a [alcohol] problem… We felt to have that impact on [alcohol] culture, we have to be able to relate to people and people’s different individual choices,” said Andy Miller, co-founder and chief executive of Heaps Normal, as per the Sydney Morning Herald.

Andy Miller, co-founder and chief executive, Heaps Normal

Alcohol-free beer is one of the fastest growing beverage markets in Australia. Many major beer brands have launched their own alcohol-free versions to align with the growing alcohol-free trend. These include Carlton Zero from beer giant Carlton & United Breweries, Heineken 0.0 sold by Lion and craft beer brands Sobah, UpFlow and NORT Refreshing Ale.

Movendi Alcohol News November 16th 2020

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Anne Russell thought it was safe to drink alcohol while pregnant with her son, Seth, but her actions led to him being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) — a condition she believes pushed him into the criminal justice system.

Key points:

  • Experts are calling for all children in Australia's criminal justice system to be assessed for FASD
  • It is believed up to 40 per cent of inmates in Australian prisons may have the disability, but most are undiagnosed
  • A federal inquiry into FASD support, prevention and diagnosis is due to release its findings next month

Ms Russell does not know what happened to her son in prison, but she says he has never been the same since.

Seth*, now 37, does not talk about the experience — in fact, he doesn't talk much at all. "He stays in his caravan 24/7," Ms Russell said. "He doesn't come out, he doesn't socialise. "That was basically the end of him being able to live a relatively normal life.

The fear that many more children have the condition but are undiagnosed has sparked calls for sweeping changes to Australia's criminal justice system.

Ms Russell said it was vital that children were assessed for FASD when they came into contact with youth justice and child protection systems.

"Early diagnosis, looking at target groups is so important," she said.

University of Queensland research fellow Natasha Reid said diagnosing patients with FASD could prevent them from reoffending.

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Movendi, Media Release - October 2020 

Movendi International statement in reaction to latest findings of the Global Burden of Disease study 2019

The Global Burden of Disease study for 2019 led by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation and published in The Lancet has found that failure in tackling preventable non-communicable diseases has made the world more vulnerable to COVID-19. The study also highlights worrying data about alcohol’s contribution to the global burden of disease.

While global healthy life expectancy – the number of years a person can expect to have good health – has increased between 1990 and 2019, it has not risen as much as overall life expectancy in 198 of the 204 countries assessed. This indicates that people are living more years in poor health.

Disability, rather than early death, has become an increasingly large share of the global disease burden – rising from around a fifth (21%) of total burden in 1990 to more than a third (34%) in 2019.

Over the past decade, large and worrying increases have been noted in exposure to several highly preventable risks including alcohol use, other drug use, obesity and high blood sugar. These risks contribute heavily to the growing NCD burden in the world.

Alcohol remains one of the leading risk factors contributing to the global burden of disease.

  • Alcohol is the eighth leading preventable risk factor for disease.
  • The contribution of alcohol to the global disease burden has been increasing year by year from 2.6% of DALYs* in 1990 to 3.7% of DALYs in 2019. 
  • In high income countries alcohol use is the second fasted growing risk factor and in LMICs it is the fourth fastest rising risk factor.
  • Alcohol is the second largest risk factor for disease burden in the age group 10-24 years.
  • Alcohol is the largest risk factor for disease burden in the group 25-49 years.

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