Researchers from the University College of London compared surveys of what Britons said they drank with actual alcohol sales figures. The results revealed a significant difference between the two, showing that almost half of the alcohol sold was unaccounted for.
This suggests that there could be as many as three quarters of the nation who are drinking more than the recommended daily amount. This estimate was reached after factoring in the unaccounted for alcohol, revealing that excess drinking occurs far more often than official figures suggest.
According to experts, alcohol consumption goes unreported partly due to drinkers not keeping track or even admitting the amount they consume.
The current alcohol guidelines set by the UK Cheif Medical Officers is to not regularly exceed three units of alcohol a day for women, and four units a day for men. The Royal College of Physicians also recommends that women shouldn’t drink over 14 units a week and men shouldn’t drink over 21 units a week.
The results of the study suggest that 26% more women than previously reported are regularly exceeding their recommended daily intake – and 19% more men.
Sadie Boniface was the lead author of the study and says that currently, they do not know who consumes half of the alcohol in Britain. The study was designed to show us how alcohol consumption would look if all of what is sold were accounted for – if everyone was under-reporting equally.
The reasons for this underestimation are varied. Experts believe it could be caused by drinking patterns and habits – for example, those who mix their drinks and those who drink at multiple locations may be more likely to underestimate.
Equally we may be underestimating drink sizes and alcoholic content. Some of us may not count special occasions such as birthdays, weddings and Christmas – even though these are the times we commonly drink more than usual.
If you are struggling to get your drinking under control it may be worth speaking to a counsellor to see if you have any underlying problems contributing to your alcohol consumption. To find out more, please see our Alcoholism page.
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