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How lockdown has altered drinking habits in the UK

The majority of Brits are drinking pretty much the same, if not less, than they were before the UK went into lockdown, according to new research, but some people are going well over the recommended weekly limit.

A YouGov survey of 2,070 UK adults between 22-26 May has found the majority of Brits are drinking within the chief medical officer’s (CMO) guidelines, which advises people to limit themselves to 14 units per week (the equivalent of roughly six pints of beer, or six glasses of wine).

Before the UK’s lockdown measures were put in place on 23 March, 75% of UK adults said they either did not drink or drank within the CMO’s guideline.

According to the survey, which was commissioned by alcohol regulating body The Portman Group. Two thirds of Brits who drank alcohol before the lockdown (65% of UK drinkers) say they are drinking the same, less or stopped drinking altogether. The majority (38%) said they drink the same, followed by 22% who are cutting back, and 5% who stopped.

However, most people who have changed their habits have started drinking more, rather than cutting back. A total of 35% said they were drinking more alcohol during lockdown. Of these, 28% said there were drinking a little more and 7% said they were drinking a lot more.

Of those drinking more, less than half 44% are drinking within the CMO guidelines. More than a fifth (22%) are drinking just over the guidelines up to 21 units a week. A further 13% are consuming 22 – 28 units; 8% consuming 29 – 35 units; 6% consuming 36 – 49 units, while a final 4% consuming at a harmful or high risk level of more than 50 units.

Portman Group Chief Executive John Timothy said the results were “further proof that fears of Brits binge drinking through lockdown are unfounded, with the majority of UK drinkers continuing to remain within the Government’s low risk guidelines, even those drinking a little bit more than previously.”

“However, we must be mindful that there remains a minority who continue to drink at hazardous levels and have actually increased their consumption, and we join with other organisations in calling for those struggling to be given the professional support they need.”

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