Targeted help needed to tackle the heaviest drinkers in the UK says alcohol watchdog

November 19th, 2018 | Posted in: News

As Alcohol Awareness Week kicks off, analysis of drinking habits across England and Scotland shows that the majority of people are drinking either at or below the current guidelines, with drinking at harmful levels becoming most prevalent in middle-aged people and in the most deprived areas.

Analysis of public data by The Portman Group shows that there has been a recent decline in levels of binge drinking. Since 2005 the proportion of people in the UK drinking five days a week has fallen, with more than 9 in 10 reporting three or more alcohol-free days in the last week when asked in 2017. In fact, since 2008, adults in Great Britain have become more likely to report being teetotal than to have indulged in binge drinking in the last week.

The Scottish Health Survey also reveals a shift in alcohol consumption. In 2003, Scottish men were more likely to be drinking above today’s guidelines than below, whereas only a third did so in 2016. The figures show that 12.5% of Scottish men are non-drinkers and 52.6% drink under 14 units per week. Meanwhile, Scottish women are now more likely to be non-drinkers than to drink above 14 units.

When it comes to those drinking at the higher risk end of the scale, statistics show that age and neighbourhood deprivation are key factors to consider. ‘Higher risk’ is normally defined as over 35 units a week for women and over 50 for men.

In England, men aged 55-64 have the greatest tendency to be drinking at harmful levels. This group also suffers a lot of alcohol-related harm; in 2017, alcohol-related hospital admissions were mostly male and 39% were aged 45-64. Curiously, men and women over 45 have become more likely to binge drink over the period 2005 to 2017. Young men, although still the group most likely to be binge drinking, have become less likely to binge drink than before.

The average intake for men drinking above current guidelines surpasses 40 units per week in the most deprived areas of Scotland. Outcomes, too, have been shown to differ by neighbourhood.  South of the border, even though surveys show that affluent people are more likely to drink, the rate of hospital admissions in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods for ‘alcohol-specific conditions’ is twice that in the least deprived 10%. These conditions, which range from alcohol poisoning to cirrhosis of the liver, signal a very high intake of alcohol either in the long or short term.

John Timothy, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, commented, “The stats show that the majority of people in England and Scotland are drinking sensibly. The explosion of the low and no alcohol market also demonstrates that awareness is growing about mindful drinking.

“We know that there is a strong link between deprivation and harmful drinking. This strengthens the case for targeted interventions and approaches to combat this rather than blanket policies.”

UK’s First Gin Garden Tours to Launch in Edinburgh

Fri 22nd February 2019

Edinburgh-based distillery, The Old Curiosity, is offering customers the opportunity to see the gin-making process for themselves, with the ... Read more.

CAMRA crowns two Edinburgh pubs joint first in 2019 Pub of the Year competition

Fri 22nd February 2019

The Edinburgh and South-East Scotland branch of beer and pub campaigning group, Campaign for Real Ale Members (CAMRA) has announced that the... Read more.


Thu 21st February 2019

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association has welcomed the acknowledgement of key issues for the nation’s pubs and brewers in the public ana... Read more.

Isle of Harris named Scotland’s favourite gin in consumer survey

Wed 20th February 2019

It scooped the best gin gong at last year’s Scottish Bar and Pub Awards, organised by DRAM, and an online survey of Scotland’s g... Read more.

Bacardi stockpiling alcohol ahead of Brexit

Wed 20th February 2019

Bacardi has revealed it is stockpiling alcohol ahead of Brexit.... Read more.

UK pub closure rate slows to 14.5 a week, says CAMRA

Tue 19th February 2019

The rate of pub closures in Scotland, England and Wales has slowed to 14.5 a week but the figure ‘still remains too high’, the C... Read more.

More than one-third of UK diners admit to restaurant ‘no-shows’ with 16 to 24-year-olds worst culprits

Tue 19th February 2019

No-shows are a thorn in the side for every restaurateur and the latest research from OpenTable has identified the worst offenders. With more... Read more.

BrewDog reveals more details of first Development Fund partnership

Tue 19th February 2019

BrewDog has revealed more details of its partnership with Crowns & Hops – the American craft beer brand that will be the first benefic... Read more.

New gin to help raise funds for Doddie Weir’s MND charity

Mon 18th February 2019

English spirits ­producer 45 West Distillers, which produces Burleighs Gin, is working with ­Scottish rugby ­legend Doddie Weir’s chari... Read more.

Absolut creates new bottle label in support of LGBT+ History Month

Mon 18th February 2019

Absolut vodka has taken ink used in hate signs from around the world to create a new limited edition bottle to celebrate LGBT+ History Month... Read more.

All four Majors live on Sky Sports in a spectacular 2019 beginning with the Masters Tournament in April

Mon 18th February 2019

The drama and emotion of all four Majors will come to life for Sky Sports customers this year as the biggest names in golf hunt down the mos... Read more.

William Grant & Sons announce new Chief People Officer

Thu 14th February 2019

William Grant & Sons has appointed Kerry Christie as its Chief People Officer effective June 2019. Kerry will be based in Scotland and w... Read more.

Andy McCue to step down as The Restaurant Group boss

Thu 14th February 2019

The Restaurant Group, whose brands include Frankie & Benny’s, Wagamama and Chiquito, has announced that chief executive Andy McCue... Read more.

Scotch Whisky exports on the up in 2018

Thu 14th February 2019

Official figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have revealed a strong year for Scotch Whisky exports in 2018, with global growth by bot... Read more.

Year-on-year revenue growth of over 300% for Scottish craft gin brand McQueen Gin

Wed 13th February 2019

Stirlingshire-based true craft spirit brand McQueen Gin has announced year-on-year revenue growth figures of over 300%. ... Read more.

BrewDog reveals more details of first US bar outside Ohio

Wed 13th February 2019

Scottish brewer BrewDog has revealed more details of the ‘Doghouse’ bar it will open in Indianapolis, which will be its first US... Read more.

Buzzworks Holdings reports another year of growth

Tue 12th February 2019

Buzzworks Holdings has reported an increase in turn over, up 9 per cent from £14.8m to £16.2m, for 2018.... Read more.

Diageo submits plans for flagship Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh

Tue 12th February 2019

Diageo has announced that plans have been formally submitted for the flagship Johnnie Walker visitor centre in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh attr... Read more.

McGinty’s Group set to serve up £500k bar and restaurant in Aberdeen

Mon 11th February 2019

The McGinty’s Group has lodged plans with Aberdeen City Council to transform the former Esslemont and Macintosh (E&Ms) department stor... Read more.

Beer sales in UK on-trade up, says BBPA Beer Barometer

Mon 11th February 2019

Sales of beer in the on trade increased by 0.1% on full year 2017 sales, according to the latest Beer Barometer sales data from the British ... Read more.