Home » How Gen Z is fighting back against binge drinking in South Korea

How Gen Z is fighting back against binge drinking in South Korea

by Marko Florentino
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The aftermath can go far beyond next day embarrassment and have serious health implications, public health bodies have warned.

According to Alcohol Change UK, alcohol intolerance affects between a third and a half of East Asian people. Worldwide, around 540 million people whose family origins are in China, Japan, Korea, or Taiwan experience it, including tens of thousands of people in the UK.

The so-called “Asian flush” or “Asian glow” turns the skin a blazing red due to genes that don’t produce all the necessary enzymes to break down alcohol.

As a result of the genetic condition, toxic byproducts of alcohol can build up in the body, causing blushing, sometimes accompanied by a rapid heartbeat, a headache, nausea, itching, a rash, and even vomiting.

Experts say the symptoms should be understood as a severe warning from the body that the alcohol is extremely toxic and can raise the risk of head, neck and gastric cancers, coronary artery disease, stroke and osteoporosis.

The proportion of carriers varies across East Asia, from about 30 per cent of the Korean population, rising to 35 and 40 per cent in China and Japan and soaring to close to 50 per cent in Taiwan.

Despite this, alcohol intake is surging across the region, and workplace boozing obligations remain.

One study by Gangneung-Wonju National University, drawing on data from the 1998-2018 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, showed the total daily alcohol intake increased about two times over this time period.

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