Zero or minimal alcohol consumption by 41 percent of adults

© Hollandse Hoogte / David Rozing
Last year, 41 percent of the Dutch adult population indicated they consumed up to one alcoholic beverage per day or zero alcohol. This means they complied with the alcohol guidelines of the Netherlands' Health Council. Among women aged 18 and up, the share exceeded 50 percent. It was even two out of three among elderly people. Smoking and drug use are less prevalent among adults who consume one drink per day or less. These are the results of the 2019 National Health Survey/Lifestyle Monitor, conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Trimbos Institute.

In 2019, nearly 80 percent of adults reported they had consumed at least one drink in the past twelve months. Eleven percent of adults indicated they had not consumed alcohol over the past twelve months but had done so in the past. Nine percent said they had never consumed alcohol. As of 2015, the Health Council of the Netherlands recommends an alcohol consumption level of zero or no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day. 41 percent of the population aged 18 and over comply with this alcohol guideline. Among men this is 30 percent, against 53 percent of women.

Alcohol consumption, 2019
AlcoholconsumptieTotal (% of persons aged 18 and over)Men (% of persons aged 18 and over)Women (% of persons aged 18 and over)
Occasional drink in the past 12 months79.184.873.6
No alcohol in the past 12 months,
used to drink
Never consumed alcohol9.56.412.5
Alcohol guideline41.529.952.8

Elderly more likely to comply

Of people aged 75 and over, the share who complied with the guideline by consuming zero or up to 1 alcoholic drink per day stood at 66 percent. Guideline compliance among 18 and 19-year-olds stood at 30 percent.
The share of people with zero to minimal alcohol consumption is higher in the low-income group than in the high-income group (54 versus 30 percent), also when variations in age and health are taken into account.

Compliance with alcohol guideline, 2019
 Complying with alcohol guideline (% of persons aged 18 and over)
Equivalised disposable income
1st quintile group (low income)54.0
2nd quintile group49.2
3rd quintile group43.7
4th quintile group36.6
5th quintile group (high income)30.3
18 or 19 29.7
20 to 2928.6
30 to 3940.8
40 to 4941.2
50 to 5440.0
55 to 6439.0
65 to 7447.1
75 and over65.9

More smokers among those who do not comply

Among people who do not comply with the alcohol guideline, the share of smokers is higher than among those who do comply: 26 against 16 percent. The percentage share of daily smokers is also divergent between the two groups: 18 versus 13 percent.
Drug use among people with zero to minimal alcohol consumption in the past 12 months stood at 4 percent; 3 percent said they had used cannabis. Among the group consuming more than 1 drink per day, these shares were 13 and 10 percent respectively. The differences remain visible when taking into account age and sex differences.

Smoking, drugs use and compliance with alcohol guideline, 2019
 Not complying with alcohol guideline (% of persons aged 18 and over)Complying with alcohol guideline (% of persons aged 18 and over)
Daily smoker17.813.3
Used drugs in past 12 months13.23.8
Used cannabis in the past 12 months10.03.2
Drugs (not cannabis) in the past 12 months 7.11.2

More and more people comply with the alcohol guideline

The share of adults who comply with the alcohol guideline has increased relative to 2014 (before this guideline was established) and 2015 (when the guideline was introduced). In 2014, over 37 percent of the adult population drank zero or only up to 1 alcoholic beverage per day, against over 41 percent in 2019. The share who comply with the guideline has hardly changed relative to 2018.

Compliance with alcohol guideline
JaarComplying with alcohol guideline (% of persons aged 18 and over)