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Study points towards reduced consumption

There is a significant difference in drinking habits between genders in the UK according to recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

The report, based on figures from the General Household Survey, also showed an overall decline in levels of binge drinking.

According to the report (based on the 2006 survey), the average consumption of alcohol per week for men is more than double that of women (18.7 units compared to 9). Men were also more likely to have had alcohol at least one day in the previous week (71%), compared to 56% for women.

The average consumption for both genders has decreased, however, as industry body Portman Group points out. The 2000 survey reported that 29% of men drank over 21 units per week, while this figure is now down to 23%. For women, the number drinking over 14 units per week fell from 17% to 12% in the same time period.

Chief executive for the group, David Poley, commented: “More people are now aware of the risks associated with harmful drinking and have changed their drinking accordingly.”

On the subject of unit labelling, Poley added that all member companies now label their drinks, representing “responsible drinking messages on 3 billion drinks containers and on £150 million worth of advertising in the last year alone.”

Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive, Jeremy Beadles, commenting on the report, said that it is “clear that the vast majority of people drink sensibly and should not be punished for the sins of a small minority. It is further evidence that calls for increased taxation on alcoholic drinks are misdirected.”

The survey included a number of other findings, such as higher reported consumption in England and Wales (13.7 and 13.5 units per week) compared to Scotland with 11.6 units. “Routine and manual” households had the lowest average consumption (11.6 units per week), while “managerial and professional” households were highest, with 15.1 units.

© Clinton Cawood, db 23/01/08

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