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Wealthy households "drink the most"

Wealthy households are responsible for the highest consumption of alcohol, official figures show.

Men across Britain drank an average of 18.7 units a week during 2006, compared with nine units for women.

But men in the top socio-economic bracket put away 22.9 units a week, while women drank 12.5, the Office for National Statistics report said.

The study also uses a new method to assess alcohol consumption, which takes into account the availability of stronger wines and larger wine glasses.

One glass of wine now counts as two units instead of one, which raised average weekly consumption from 10.2 units per person to 13.5 units.

It also means the proportion of people drinking more than the recommended daily amount on their heaviest drinking day increased.

The research found 40% of men exceeded the four unit guideline, while 33% of women had more than the recommended three units. This compares with 33% of men, and 20% of women using the old methodology.

Total alcohol consumption actually appears to be falling if the old format is used, but the report's author Eileen Goddard said this does not tell the whole story.

"It may be that people are even more unwilling than they have been in the past to tell us how much they drink, so we have got more of an under-reporting problem," she said.

Office for National Statistics

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