Objective: Alcohol consumption is one of the major avoidable risk factors for disease, illness and injury in the Australian community. Population health scientists and economists use estimates of alcohol consumption in burden of disease frameworks to estimate the impact of alcohol on disease, illness and injury. This article highlights challenges associated with estimating alcohol consumption in these models and provides a series of recommendations to improve estimates. Methods: Key challenges in measuring alcohol consumption at the population level are identified and discussed with respect to how they apply to burden of disease frameworks. Results: Methodological advances and limitations in the estimation of alcohol consumption are presented with respect to use of survey data, population distributions of alcohol consumption, consideration of 'patterns' of alcohol use including 'bingeing', and capping exposure. Key recommendations for overcoming these limitations are provided. Implications and conclusion: Alcohol-related burden has a significant impact on the health of the Australian population. Improving estimates of alcohol related consumption will enable more accurate estimates of this burden to be determined to inform future alcohol policy by legislators.
- burden of disease