National drinking problem

Nation's drinking problem worse after overhaul of alcohol measures

The increasing popularity of New World wines and strong lagers has revealed the nation’s drinking problem is worse than thought, with one in four women drinking too much.

Government statisticians have announced an overhaul of the system for measuring alcohol consumption for the first time in 30 years, as estimates for strength of drinks are obsolete.

Most wines are now in the 11.5% to 13.5% category. When surveys were first performed, it was believed that wine was 9% proof. This means a glass of wine which has always been counted as one unit of alcohol should really be counted as two.

Most of the changes by the Government’s Office for National Statistics involve wine, of which women’s consumption is much higher than men’s. Under the new system, women’s average intake shoots up to 45% to 9.4 units a week. However men’s consumption is also much higher, increased by 26% from 15.8 to 19.9, the Office for National Statistics said.

The revised figures bring both men and women closer to the recommended weekly limit of 14 units a week for women and 21 for men.

Strong wines from the New World were mainly responsible for the change as Australian chardonnay and New Zealand sauvignon and very popular with women. As well as an increased strength in wines, the size of bar glasses is often larger than the 125ml standard measure.

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