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Over 45, Middle Class - Most Hazardous Drinkers


Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 Over 45, Middle Class - Most Hazardous Drinkers

Headlines in the Telegraph today suggesting the most hazardous drinkers are the over 45 age group, with reference to Kate Devlin’s article (16 12 08). She states, “Middle aged people who are on high incomes are the most likely to drink five or more nights a week, according to the statistics.

The findings add to growing concern over middle class drinkers and the damage their habits are doing to their bodies.

However this is not an actual new story, as the Times reported a similar article back on (16 10 07) according to David Brown. He argues “drinkers in middle-class areas are more likely routinely to consume “hazardous” amounts of alcohol than those in poorer areas.”

He further adds Social drinkers who regularly down more than one large glass of wine a day will be told they risk damaging their health in the same way as young binge drinkers.

Both findings seem to suggest that focus has somewhat been displaced. More specifically this group has not been targeted and the most likely reason being is that this group cause less of a social problem.

Having said that the Public Health Minister Dawn Primaolo argues, “Most of these are not young people, they are ‘everyday’ drinkers who have drunk too much for too long. This has to change.”

The research, commissioned by the Department of Health, is the first nationwide analysis of the impact of “social drinking”. It found that people living in relatively affluent areas are more likely to be drinking at above sensible levels than those living in deprived areas.

The percentage of adults drinking “hazardous” levels of alcohol ranges from 14.1 per cent to 26.4 per cent. “Hazardous” levels for women are between five and twelve large glasses of wine a week and for men between seven and seventeen glasses.

Notwithstanding, the percentage of adults drinking “hazardous” levels of alcohol ranges from 14.1 per cent to 26.4 per cent. “Hazardous” levels for women are between five and twelve large glasses of wine a week and for men between seven and seventeen glasses.

More specifically, the research, by the North West Public Health Observatory, concludes that just 22 units per week will push a man into the “hazardous” category, while women need to drink just 15 units. Some of the country’s most wealthy areas were found to have the biggest number of “hazardous drinkers”, with Runnymede in Surrey and Harrogate in North Yorkshire topping the league tables. Thus social affluence is a major contributary factor to dangerous drinking levels within this group.

Earlier this year a survey conducted by the NHS Information Centre shows that 30 per cent of men and 19 per cent of women in the highest earning bracket admitted that they had drunk alcohol five nights or more in the previous week, twice as much as in the lowest wage bracket.

It has also been established that the middle aged were also much more likely than young people or thirtysomethings to drink frequently. The highest proportion rate was among men aged 55 to 64, 33 per cent of whom said that they had drunk five or more days out of the last seven.

In the female category, 9 per cent of 65 to 74-year-olds admitted that they drank that often.

In contrast just 12 per cent of male and 5 per cent of female 16 to 24-year-olds said that they drank that frequently.

And generally 22 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women said that they had gone without alcohol for two days or less in the previous week.

The survey worryingly suggests only a few people know the recommended daily alcohol limits.

Ironically, previous studies have concentrated on younger binge drinkers this is the first to suggest so starkly that middle class over 45-year-olds top the league table for frequent drinking. Thus it could be argued that there is an established cultural trend towards alcohol misuse from across the generations but more acuetly in the middle-class sector.

In conclusion, Dr Mark Davies, medical director of the NHS Information Centre and a practising GP, said it was of “concern” that messages of safe alcohol intake, as well as those on exercise levels and healthy eating, did not seem to be getting through to all sections of the population.

Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, said: “Labour’s neglect over issues like obesity and alcohol abuse will leave a terrible legacy for the next Government to try and fix” and called for urgent action on public health problems.

Inexcess will strongly recommend be vigilant towards lifestyle issues. With the run up to Christmas and beyond, most certainly enjoy the festive period, but be responsible.

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