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Rise in the strength of alcohol…


Monday, September 7th, 2009 Rise in the strength of alcohol…

People are unintentionally consuming more units of alcohol because the strength of alcohol has increased in recent years, according to a new report.

Britons are drinking 10 per cent more alcohol units compared to nine-years-ago. However, the volume of alcoholic drinks consumed has remained the same. It is thought that the wider range of alcoholic drinks on the market, including stronger wines and larger, are to blame for the rise.

In addition to this, the number of people drinking alcohol in their home has increased by 20 per cent over the past year as more people use alcohol to help them relax and wind down.

Senior drinks analyst, Jonny Forsyth, from market research company Mintel, said: “In the 1970s a bottle of wine may have been around 11 per cent in ABV [alcohol by volume and now the same bottle is more likely to be around 13 per cent.

“Equally, we have seen stronger lager become much more popular over the past couple of decades, with the growth of the 5 per cent ‘premium’ lager sector. It may be that the majority of consumers are not aware of ABV and don’t even notice. So despite a greater societal concern with being healthy … by stealth we are drinking more pure alcohol than ever.”

The report found that older people are drinking fewer units per session than younger adults, and those aged 45-54 consume more on average than those aged 35-44.
Mr Forsyth said: “There is a dual problem when it comes to excessive consumption. Younger drinkers are binge drinking too much on the one hand, and older drinkers, while drinking less per session, are often drinking over the weekly recommended allowance by drinking little and often.”

Doctors have said that a rise in the number of cases of liver disease and other health problems is due to the availability of cheap, strong alcohol and “bulk-buy” supermarket deals. Furthermore, standard measures in bars and restaurants, and the glasses sold for home use, have also increased in size according to experts.

Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern said: “The increasing strength of wines and beers means we are often drinking at harmful levels without realising it. With alcohol consumption being linked to more than 40 different diseases or conditions, surely the drinks industry has a responsibility to provide clear information and a greater choice of lower-strength beers, wines and ciders which people can enjoy without harming their health.”

Gavin Partington, of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “The Government’s own figures show that people in Britain have been drinking less alcohol each year since 2004. While it’s true that we are drinking marginally stronger wines than we were 40 years ago, the industry is aware of consumer enthusiasm for low-alcohol products. That’s why we and the Government urged European authorities to change rules to allow more low-alcohol wine to be sold.”


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