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Well off "more likely to binge drink"

Men on high salaries are more likely to binge drink than their poorer counterparts, according to new figures.

Some 29% of men drink alcohol on five or more days a week, in comparison with just 17% of those on lower wages, according to data compiled by the NHS Information Centre.

Meanwhile 17% of female high earners were found to drink this frequently, compared with 11% of those on a lower income.

Higher earners drink more heavily in one go - more than twice the daily recommended limit (men drink more than eight units in one session and women drink more than six) compared with those in poorer households.

They are also more likely to have drunk alcohol at all in the last week (86% of men and 72% of women) compared with 54% of men and 47% of women on lower incomes.

The Health Survey for England (HSE) 2009 showed that, overall, one in four men (25%) and more than one in seven women (15%) had drunk more than twice the recommended levels on at least one day in the last week.

There were also age differences among all incomes when it came to drinking on at least five days a week.

Just 11% of men and 4% of women aged 16 to 24 drink this frequently, rising to 33% of men aged 55 to 64 and 17% of women aged 55 to 74.

Chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, Tim Straughan, said: "The figures show the extent to which people from all backgrounds drink alcohol both frequently and in quantities that could be harmful to their health."

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