Page last updated: March 27, 2017
Typology and dynamics of heavier drinking styles in Great Britain: 1978–2010

A research project aimed to identify a typology of heavier drinking styles in Great Britain and to identify socio-demographic trends in the typology over the period 1978–2010.

Data was taken from the General Lifestyle Survey of Great Britain, 1978–2010 and a cluster analysis focused on the 60,043 adult respondents over this period reporting average drinking levels above the UK Government guidelines. Socio-demographic trends in heavier drinking were analysed using sex, age, income, education, socio-economic status and tobacco consumption as variables.

Four stable clusters of heavier drinking were identified: (a) high volume beer; (b) beer and spirit combination; (c) all beverage and (d) wine and spirit only. The socio-demographic characteristics of the clusters were distinct from both each other and the general population, but all clusters had higher median incomes and higher smoking rates than the population. Increases in the prevalence of heavier drinking were driven by a 5-fold increase in the contribution of the female-dominated, wine and spirit only cluster.

The study found that recent changes in per capita alcohol consumption in Great Britain occurred within the context of a stable typology of heavier drinking styles and shifting socio-demographics. Identifying these trends is essential to better understand how drinking cultures develop over time and where potentially problematic drinking styles may emerge.

The findings suggest that careful attention to patterns and cultures of consumption is more important than relying on headline consumption data, for both understanding drinking behaviours and targeting interventions.

Source: Typology and Dynamics of Heavier Drinking Styles in Great Britain: 1978–2010. Robin C. Purshouse Alan Brennan Daniel Moyo James Nicholls Paul Norman. Alcohol 1-10.

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