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One In Four People Drink To Much


Thursday, May 21st, 2009 One In Four People Drink To Much

An eye opener running in both the Telegraph by Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor and the Mail’s Fiona Macrae (20/05/2009) this morning, reporting on the fact that it is estimated that inexcess of 10m people in England, which broken down equates to one in four people are drinking to much, and that is official.

It is understood that in terms of hospital admissions these are up by a staggering 70% over the last five years and are likely to reach inexcess of 850,000 per annum in England alone.

Moreover, middle class drinkers are the largest group affected according to the statistics.

The evidence is compelling and experts are extremely worried that the nation as a whole is facing a major crisis.

It will now be interesting to proceed and identify their findings as the cost to the NHS is said to be a staggering £2.7 billion per annum

As indicated by official data directly from the NHS Information Centre, it is revealed that one in three men and one in six women are thought to be hazardous drinkers. Fundamentally their findings are based on questionnaires related to alcohol consumption. The significance being is that people are placing themselves of both physical or psychological harm.

The NHS Information Centre used a ten-question test assess how much and how often a person drinks, as well as how it affects their day-to-day life, memory and health.

Each answer earned a score of between zero and four, giving a maximum possible score of 40. Notably, the World Health Organisation (WHO) rates a score of eight or more as ‘hazardous’.

Furthermore, statistics reveal that 6% of men and 2% of women have been determined as harmful drinkers. With this in mind, there is compelling evidence thet such people are far more likely to suffer both physical and mental harm.

In addition, based on the evidence it is deemed that 25% of men and 16% of women have admitted to binge drinking, i.e drinking more than 8 units in any one given day for men and six units for women in the week before they were questioned.

On a positive note, it has been reported that fewer minors are drinking alcohol than four years ago. However, on the down side, those that do, drink inexcess of 12.7 units per week, which equates to a bottle of wine.

Nonetheless the findings of the report also identified that there were 6,541 deaths directly related to the consumption of alcohol. The significance is that the figures have increased by 19% overall since 2001.

The Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, Don Shenker states, “Today’s figures clearly show that alcohol misuse is one of the most serious public health problems facing the UK.

“The dramatic increase in admissions caused by alcohol consumption is a warning that unless action is taken, we face an escalating public health crisis and increasing pressure on the doctors and nurses working in our hospitals.

“As alcohol has become more affordable fuelled by the growth of irresponsible low cost sales, the population as whole is drinking more and this is having a massive impact on the nation’s health.”

Some encoraging news equally has to be reported and statistics reveal that men drank an average of 14.9 units a week in 2006 which is around 2.3 units less than in 1998. Average consumption for women has increased steadily to peak at 7.6 units in 2002 but has decreased to 6.3 units in 2006. So perhaps the health messages are filtering through.

Accordingly, the President of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Ian Gilmore, says: “The figures released today reflect the contradictions that characterise Britain’s relationship to drink. It is a welcome development that more people, on average, are drinking within the recommended limits. But this contrasts with fact that nearly half of all adults drink above the safe daily limits at least once a week, often above twice these levels. This paradox underlines the difficulties in understanding and seeking to change the drinking culture in the UK.

“These new figures on our nation’s drinking give us some signs of encouragement but also show us very clearly that the argument that it is a small minority spoiling it for the vast majority of responsible drinkers just won’t wash.”

The chief executive of The Drinkaware Trust, Chris Sorek, says: “Many people enjoy alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle but drinking to excess can lead to serious illness. To reduce the number of people drinking to ‘hazardous’ levels it’s crucial that consumers know how alcohol affects them and can make educated decisions about how much they’re drinking.”

Nevertheless. alcohol is in no doubt one of the most serious health issues the Country faces and theis is bourne out by the Minister for Public Health, Dawn Primarolo, who argues “Alcohol is one of the most challenging public health issues we face. We are working harder than ever to reduce alcohol related hospital admissions, and to help those who regularly drink too much or are dependent on alcohol.”

For guidance purposes, it will be useful to know how much both men and womenn can consume safely. For men it is advised three to four units per day. Whilst for women two to three units per day.

More specifically, a unit is according to the Telegraph report, ‘eight grams of alcohol a small (125ml) glass of white wine of around 12 per cent alcohol by volume is around 1.6 units while a pint of 5 per cent ABV lager is 2.8 units. Units can be calculated by taking strength in alcohol by volume and multiplying it with volume in millilitres and then dividing by 1000.’

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