Middle-class drinking too much ‘by stealth’

The wine middle-classes enjoy is also getting stronger

Middle-class Britons are drinking too much ‘by stealth’ because they consume alcohol more frequently than other groups and the wine they enjoy is getting stronger, according to research.
 
Stronger drinks – and larger measures – have become more popular in recent years, and the study warns that drinkers could be unwittingly risking their health even if they do not go out on ‘binges’.

Jonny Forsyth, senior drink analyst for Mintel, the leading market research analysts who produced the report, said: ‘The over-45s are drinking more regularly but not thinking they’re in danger. They are drinking four, five, six days a week and it all adds up even though young people binge-drink more.’

The past decade has seen more and more Britons choose to drink at home rather than at the pub, with the market now worth £15billion a year. An estimated 1.8million more adults have started drinking at home since 2004.

Analysts believe the public smoking ban, tougher action against drink-drivers and the availability of cheaper alcohol in supermarkets and online have all helped convince people that they can have just as enjoyable an evening in their living rooms as in their local.

At the same time, wine has overtaken beer as the nation’s ‘favourite indoor tipple’, according to Mintel, with sales now worth £6.49bn a year. The research shows that 63% of the professional ‘AB’ classes drink more than twice a week, compared with fewer than 50% of the working classes.

The findings also show that the amount of pure alcohol consumed over the past decade has risen by 10%, to over 9 litres a year, as more powerful New World wines have gained in popularity.

Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘This study shows very clearly that our problems with alcohol are not confined to binge-drinking youngsters. Many regular drinkers who don’t consider themselves at risk are undoubtedly exceeding safe limits as drinks get stronger.’

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