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Affluent consumers drinking at ‘hazardous’ levels

Drinking 'hot spots' published for England


Glasses of white wine in a row.

Experts have warned of the dangers of routine over-consumption of alcohol as new figures were published showing people in relatively affluent areas are more likely to be drinking at levels considered ‘hazardous’ to health.

Figures for local authorities in England show the percentage of adults regularly drinking at ‘hazardous’ levels – between 22 to 50 units a week for men and 15 to 35 for women – ranges from 14.1% to 26.4%.

Hazardous drinkers tend to live in the more deprived areas of the country, according to the statistics, with Manchester topping the league table at 8.8% of adults, followed by 8.1% in Liverpool.

Harmful drinking patterns

Harmful drinking patterns are contributing to increasing levels of alcohol-related ill-health and pressures on health services across the whole country, the researchers said. Long-term problems include conditions such as liver disease, circulatory diseases and cancer. The-short term problems include accidents and alcohol-related assaults.

The alcohol profiles for every local authority in England were published online by the North West Public Health Observatory, Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University.

The profiles have been published as so-called ‘middle class wine drinkers’ who drink too much at home were targeted earlier this year by the government in its alcohol strategy for England, as well as binge drinkers and under-age drinkers.

The statistics also include figures for alcohol-attributable hospital admission rates by local authority, alcohol-related recorded crimes and death rates from conditions related to alcohol.

Routine drinking

Professor Mark Bellis, director of the North West Public Health, said much attention had been paid to binge drinking but not enough to the damage associated with routinely consuming too much alcohol.

He said: ‘In order to stop further increases in alcohol-related deaths and admission to hospital, we must also reverse the tolerance that most communities have built up by simply consuming too much alcohol on a weekly basis.’

Ruth Hussey, regional director of public health in the north west, said: ‘The data are a powerful indication of the harmful effects that alcohol is having on all parts of society… urgent action is required from all organisations to prevent further harm occurring.’

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