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Over 45s three times as likely to drink almost every day

Released: 08 March 2012 Download PDF

New evidence suggests that adults tend to drink more often as they get older: adults aged 45 and over were three times as likely as those aged under 45 to drink almost every day (13 per cent compared with 4 per cent). (Table 2.5c)

Over a fifth of men (22 per cent) aged 65 and over consumed alcohol almost every day compared with just 3 per cent of men aged between 16 and 24. The same pattern was apparent among women: 12 per cent of women aged 65 and over consumed alcohol almost every day compared with just 1 per cent of women aged between 16 and 24. (Table 2.5b)

The survey also indicates that younger adults were more likely to have drunk heavily in the previous week than older adults: 24 per cent of men aged 16 to 24 drank more than 8 units of alcohol in a single day and 25 per cent of men aged 25 to 44, compared with 20 per cent of men aged 45 to 64, and only 7 per cent of men aged 65 and over. Among women the estimates for drinking heavily (more than 6 units in a single day) in the corresponding age groups were 17 per cent, 19 per cent, 11 per cent and 2 per cent. (Table 2.12a)

Currently, the Government recommendations for daily alcohol intake are that it should not regularly exceed three to four units for men, and two to three units for women.

These findings are set out in the General Lifestyle Survey Overview Report, 2010, published today by the Office for National Statistics (See Background Note 1).

Other findings presented in the Overview Report are that in 2010:

  • More than half of adults in Great Britain (54 per cent) had an alcoholic drink every week, and around a quarter (26 per cent) drank alcohol more than twice a week. (Table 2.5b)

  • 36 per cent of men exceeded 4 units, and 28 per cent of women exceeded 3 units on at least one day in the week before interview (Table 2.4)

  • In managerial and professional households, 40 per cent of men exceeded 4 units, and 35 per cent of women exceeded 3 units on at least one day in the week before interview. This compares with 32 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women in routine and manual households (Table 2.14)

  • Almost 1 in 5 men (19 per cent) and 1 in 8 women (13 per cent) drank heavily  on at least one day in the week before interview (Table 2.4)

  • In managerial and professional households, 21 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women drank heavily on at least one day in the previous week. This compares with 18 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women in routine and manual households (Table 2.14)
     

The Overview Report also includes analysis on smoking behaviour. In 2010, 20 per cent of the adult population were cigarette smokers compared to 45 per cent in 1974 when the smoking data were first collected (Table 1.1).

Over the last 20 years there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of smokers who smoke mainly hand-rolled tobacco. In 2010, 39 per cent of men smokers rolled their own compared with 18 per cent in 1990. Amongst women, in 2010, 23 per cent of smokers said they rolled their own compared to only 2 per cent in 1990. (Table 1.11)

More information can be found in the General Lifestyle Survey Overview Report, 2010

Background notes

  1. The smoking and drinking chapters of the General Lifestyle Survey Overview Report, 2010 are based on information provided by 13,333 respondents aged 16 and over.
  2. The General Lifestyle Survey (GLF) is a multi-purpose continuous survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics. It collects information on a range of topics from people living in private households in Great Britain. The survey presents a picture of households, families and people living in Great Britain. This information is used by government departments and other organisations, such as educational establishments, businesses and charities to contribute to policy decisions and for planning and monitoring purposes.
  3. Classifications such as ‘routine and manual’ and ‘managerial and professional’ are based on the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC). The 3 class version of NS-SEC also includes an intermediate group. Occupations classified as routine and manual include call centre worker, train driver, and shop assistant. Occupations classified as intermediate include secretary, fireman, self-employed with fewer than 25 employees, e.g. self-employed builder, hairdresser. Occupations classified as managerial and professional include nurses, teachers, actors and those usually responsible for planning, organising and co-ordinating work or finance. Further information is available at: www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/classifications/archived-standard-classifications/ns-sec/index.html
  4. A standard unit is the equivalent of 10ml of ethyl alcohol. A single 25 ml measure of spirits with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 40 per cent contains one unit of alcohol.
  5. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the media office.
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  7. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
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  8. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

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