This site is intended for health professionals only

Minister hails drinking data change

The public health minister has hailed changes to estimates of the nation's alcohol consumption.

The Office for National Statistics has updated its assessment for the first time since 1978 because drinks now have a higher alcohol content and some come in bigger measures.

The change raises average British alcohol consumption from 10.8 units to 14.3 units per person per week.

Women's estimated intake jumps by 45% to 9.4 units per week because they drink more wine than men, according to an ONS.

Wine used to be classed as 9% alcohol by volume (ABV), but most are now in the 11.5% to 13.5% range.

But Dawn Primarolo believes the move will improve health by giving people a better idea of how much alcohol they are consuming.

She said: "These changes give a much better picture of how much we really are drinking.

"Larger glass sizes and higher alcohol content of wine in particular over a number of years mean more of us are drinking more than we think.

"The government is planning a major new multi-million pound campaign in the spring to coincide with the introduction of new labelling on all bottles and cans that will show the Government's sensible drinking message and the alcohol unit content."

Office for National Statistics

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I have lost count of the articles in health magazines or Sunday supplements that have stated that a glass of wine is 1 unit. I am happy to tank a great many glasses - large ones - at a BBQ or with friends at a weekend meal. But I know exactly how many units I am drinking (units = volume in litres multiplied by percent alcohol, so a 250ml wine glass at 12% = 3 units). It doesn't stop me, by at least I know. Now imagine a girl who has informed herself from some article, judges that she will risk six units, a bit over the top but it is Saturday, so six large glasses of wine. Sorry, that is likely to be about 19 units. And the government wonders why people get drunk. The old figures were getting out of date 10-15 years ago. It was very long overdue for them to be updated, and shame on the government for dictating behaviour without giving us accurate data." - Name and address supplied