Wealth linked to dangerous levels of alcohol consumption

Better off drinkers are more likely to put their health at risk through excessive drinking, according to the results of a new survey.
Better off drinkers are more likely to put their health at risk through excessive drinking, according to the results of a new survey.
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MIDDLE-CLASS and wealthy Britons are more likely to drink alcohol at dangerous levels than those who are poorer, new official data shows.

People living in the fifth of households with the highest incomes - £44,000 and above for an average family - are significantly more likely to drink alcohol above the recommended amounts than people in the lowest fifth, who earn £12,000 or less per year.

Some 27 per cent of men and 23 per cent of women in the fifth of households with the highest incomes drink more than they should. This compares to just five per cent of men and 12 per cent of women in the lowest income bracket.

The NHS guidelines on drinking say men should stick to 21 units or less per week, while women should drink no more than 14 units per week. Across all incomes, 63 per cent of men and 62 per cent of women stick to the guidelines, the data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed.

The survey, of 10,000 adults and children, found older generations are more likely to drink regularly and that men aged 65 to 74 are the most likely to drink too much - 30 per cent down more than 21 units a week.

Elizabeth Fuller, research director of NatCen Social Research, which worked on the report, said most adults drink at levels that are at low risk of alcohol-related harm, and the proportion of people who binge drink has fallen since 2006.

“However, there is a sizeable minority of adults who habitually drink above the lower risk levels,” she added.

“This is especially the case for middle-aged men and women and adults in higher income households, who are thus putting themselves at risk of a number of alcohol-related health conditions.”