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Britons underestimate alcohol consumption by a bottle a week

Monday, December 21st, 2009 Britons underestimate alcohol consumption by a bottle a week

A new study has revealed that drinkers are underestimating the amount of alcohol they drink by an average of one bottle of wine a week.

The research study, conducted by Liverpool John Moores University found that the equivalent of 44 million more bottles of wine are sold in supermarkets, pubs and off licences than drinkers admit to consuming.

The researchers questioned people about how much they believe they drink and compared this to official figures on the sales of alcohol. The team found that many people forget about the amount of alcohol they drink on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas parties and weddings. In fact, it seems that the more alcohol a person has consumer the more difficult it is for a person to accurately estimate.

Drinkers will have to cut their alcohol consumption by a third if they are to stay within the Government’s recommended safe drinking levels.

The latest statistics, from the General Household Survey, carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), claim that the average drinker consumes the equivalent of 26 units of alcohol in a week.

Government ministers have recommended that women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol in a week, and it suggested that men should consumer less than 21 units.

Professor Mark Bellis, who led the General Household Survey, said: “It is easy to see how so much alcohol can be consumed without actually registering in surveys.

“When asked to think about their drinking, people often ignore occasional heavier drinking sessions, holidays, weddings and other celebrations like Christmas parties.

“Even when people try to remember such occasions, generally the more they have drunk, the more they are likely to forget.

“As a result, the difference between what people say they drink and sales data on how much is actually bought for consumption is huge.”

Chief executive of Alcohol Concern, Don Shenker, said: “If we underestimate our drinking levels, then we’re underestimating the amount of harm we can expect to happen to our families, communities and wider society – as well as how much further we need to go to curb our excessive consumption.

“Poor survey intelligence can result in misinformed policy.

“Any future government must get to grips with measuring the true scale and nature of this problem if it is to make a difference to reduce alcohol harms.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “We welcome Alcohol Concern’s report as many people do not realise how much alcohol they drink and they may understate their drinking on self-reported surveys.

“That’s why the Government also uses data on alcohol sales to measure the true level of alcohol consumption, which informs our policies.”

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