TT loves alcohol

By Miranda La Rose
July 27 2015 –

Trini PeopleTRINIDAD and Tobago and two other CARICOM countries were identified in a Pan American/World Health Organisation report on alcohol use as having the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the Americas, and Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan says it may be linked to the culture of Carnival.

Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis were also identified in PAHO/WHO first Regional Status Report on Alcohol and Health in the Americas, which also warned that harmful use of alcohol increases in the Americas over 2005 to 2010.

“These things may be linked to the culture of Carnival, which is the culture of drinking, Khan told Newsday in a recent interview. “We do have a problem and we are working with it,” he said noting that the Ministry of Health STEPS programme towards a healthier TT showed that teenage alcohol use has increased along with Non Communicable Diseases.

The ministry, he said, was in the process of formulating a national alcohol policy to cover education on the negative effects of alcohol consumption and advertising of alcoholic beverages.

“If you have stringent action on teenage drinking and high education campaign about the negative effects of alcohol targeting peer pressure more than anything else,” he said, there will be positive results.

“A lot of young people drink because of peer pressure and then it transfers to adult and addictive drinking,” he said. Alcohol distributors and manufacturers, he said, use young persons with friendly faces to give the marketing push to make alcohol look attractive. The PAHO/WHO report has recommended that countries limit availability, restrict marketing and increase taxes on alcohol.

It has recommended minimum age requirement for the purchase, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages; restrictions on where and when alcoholic beverages may be sold; and comprehensive regulation of alcohol marketing.

The report said that apart from the three CARICOM countries, Paraguay and Venezuela also “had the highest rates of harmful alcohol consumption in the Americas” for the five year period.

“The region has been paying a high cost in terms of health, financial resources, and productivity, and these costs will continue to increase if effective measures are not immediately adopted to help promote, protect and improve the health and well-being of people over commercial interests,” PAHO/WHO Director, Department of Non Communicable Diseases and Mental Health.

PAHO/WHO noted that about one in five or 22 percent of current drinkers engage in “heavy episodic drinking” which is higher than the global average of 16 percent.

The region also has on average, the second highest per capita consumption of alcohol after Europe, and an estimated six percent of the region’s population suffers from an alcohol use disorder, PAHO said.

In 2012, PAHO said, alcohol contributed to the deaths of over 300,000 persons.

Alcohol use contributes to over 200 diseases and injuries including cirrhosis of the liver and some types of cancer.

6 thoughts on “TT loves alcohol”

  1. Fuad Khan is either genuinely clueless or extremely dishonest … I think it is the latter. Trinidad’s alcohol culture is not just about our so-called carnival mentality. Is the high alcoholic rate among Indians in Trinidad due to carnival culture? What about the propensity for the drink among some of our top politicians … is that carnival-related too? Dr. Khan needs to stop scapegoating carnival and either speak the truth about the nature of alcoholism in Trinidad and Tobago or shut the hell up.

    1. The Health Minister should know. Alcohol transcends race or nationality when it comes to carnival time. The Opposition Leader was spotted in San Fernando around carnival time having some Jonny Walker. But in some sense the mind altering beverage is savoured more by some segments of the population. Alcohol does not discriminate it treats all equally. I don’t drink the dirty barrel water but members of my family men and women savour a Hiny or Carib and are not ashamed to let the world know via Facebook. Alcohol is part of the stimulant most men and women uses to generate conversation. After taking a few drinks the tongue loosen to reveal the naked heart and many secrets are revealed…

  2. An interesting and revealing study


    In Trinidad and Tobago, differences in alcoholism rates exist among people of East Indian (Indo-Trinidadian) and African (Afro-Trinidadian) ancestry. Researchers have investigated whether these differences can be explained in part by variations in the genes that produce the alcohol-metabolizing enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) 1B and 1C and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) 1 and 2 and cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1). In this article by Ms. Shelley Moore and Drs. L.K. Montane-Jaime, Lucinda G. Carr, and Cindy L. Ehlers, the authors discuss studies of ADH and ALDH genetic differences in Trinidadians. These studies highlight the usefulness of evaluating risk and protective factors associated with alcohol metabolism in diverse ethnic groups.

    1. This section of the article was missed.The health minister should be educating the public with science not with carnival gossip.

      The population of Trinidad and Tobago is composed mainly of people of East Indian (Indo-Trinidadians) and African (Afro-Trinidadians) ancestry. Differences in alcoholism rates exist between these two ethnic groups, and researchers have investigated whether these differences can be explained in part by variations in the genes encoding the alcohol-metabolizing enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) 1B and 1C, and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) 1 and 2. Studies have demonstrated that a certain variant of the gene encoding ADH1B (ADH1B*3) is associated with a reduced risk of alcoholism in Afro-Trinidadians, as is a variant of the gene encoding ADH1C (i.e., ADH1C*1) in Indo-Trinidadians. An ALDH2 variant shown to have protective effects primarily in East Asians was not found in either Trinidadian ethnic group. However, a variant in the gene encoding cytosolic ALDH1A (i.e. ALDH1A1*1/*2) was found to be associated with an increase in alcohol dependence in Indo-Trinidadians.

    2. The effects of alcohol will vary in every human specie because of our varied DNA. This is not an Indian or African is a survival issue. Shame on us for indulging on a product that killed many of our ancestors..not by consumption but by labor in production. Folks, the tobacco is killing half the planet with cancer. Alcohol consumption causes liver and kidney diseases, including diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and the list goes on. We need to have a responsible leader on the fight against tobacco and alcohol over consumption. Smoking is not sexy and drinking is not macho. Perhaps the young educated students will see the mistakes of your past and current leaders (PNM and PPM)

Comments are closed.