Findings from the Health Survey for England 2011 have been released, including details on drinking patterns and a drink diary chapter, which is a new addition.
The report broadly reflects known general consumption patterns. Young adults are more likely to drink heavily (binge) on a single occasion than older adults, but drink on fewer days in the week. Adults over 45 are more likely to drink on most days, but tend to drink less per day. Those from higher socio-economic groups are more likely to drink above the guidelines and do so more regularly. Men drink significantly more than women across most age groups.
The drink diary chapter has been included to test how reported consumption matches up when recorded by the drinker. Although reported frequency of drinking tended to match, consumption levels tended to be under-estimated when measured with a drinks diary. The survey data is still considered reliable in determining consumption patterns and variations across age, sex, region and income groups.
Focusing only on those who drank alcohol in the last week, 31% of men, 25% of women). Men drank an average of 7.7 units, and women an average of 5.0 units on the day they drank the most in the last week.
Among 16-24 year-old men and women who drank in the last week, 45% and 46% respectively drank more than twice the recommended amount.
The proportion of men consuming more than four units on the heaviest day’s drinking in the last week did not show substantial change between 2006 and 2011 (39% in 2011), and similarly the proportion of men that drank more than twice the recommended amount showed little change over the period (22% in 2011).
The picture was different among women: there was a decrease between 2006 and 2011 both in the proportion consuming more than three units on the heaviest day’s drinking last week (from 33% to 28%), and in the proportion drinking more than twice the recommended amount (from 16% to 13%).