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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
One in four are binge drinkers
Image of a glass of wine
One small glass of wine contains one unit of alcohol
Up to a quarter of adults in Britain are binge drinkers, according to research.

A survey of 2,000 people found almost one in three men and one in five women drank at least double the recommended daily limit.

Advisers say women should drink no more than 2-3 units and men no more than 3-4 units of alcohol per day. A small glass of wine contains one unit.

BUPA Wellness says 11 million Britons are risking their health in this way.

These findings are certainly worrying and show a lack of awareness about the risks of drinking to excess
A spokeswoman from Alcohol Concern

Despite the figures, more than two-thirds of those who drank more than the recommended amount on a night out denied that they were binge drinkers and a similar number were not concerned by their pattern of drinking.

More than eight out of 10 drinkers said they did not keep track of how much they drank during a night out and just under half said they believed drinking had no effect at all on their health.

Young men were found to be the most likely to binge-drink, with 47% of those aged 18-24 classed as binge drinkers.

But recent reports show the gender gap is closing and that many young women now binge-drink.

Some have blamed licensing hours for encouraging people to cram their drinking into a shorter space of time, as well as drink promotions such as happy hours and "two-for-one" offers.

Part of the government's strategy to combat this is longer opening hours from November.

Confusion over units

Licensed premises can apply to extend their opening hours beyond 11pm from 24 November, potentially to allow 24-hour drinking in some cases.

Ministers say the new laws will promote sensible drinking and a more civilised atmosphere in towns and cities.

Dr Peter Mace, medical director at BUPA Wellness, said part of the problem was that drinking limits were not as easily defined as they once were, with beers and wines served in a variety of strengths and sizes.

One unit is considered to be 8g of alcohol
One small glass of wine, half a pint of beer or one pub measure of spirits usually contains one unit
Some stronger beers and lagers may contain as many as 2.5 units per half pint
Cans of beer/lager often contain about three-quarters of a pint and so will contain 1.5 units

This means it is often confusing to know exactly how much it is safe to drink.

"As our research shows that almost half of drinkers are baffled by government advice on safe drinking limits, BUPA Wellness believes the government needs to take steps to reduce the confusion, particularly if licensing hours are to be extended.

"There is clearly a gap in information being provided for drinkers and a strong need for education to stem what is fast becoming a serious health and social problem for the UK," Dr Mace said.

A spokeswoman from Alcohol Concern said: "These findings are certainly worrying and show a lack of awareness about the risks of drinking to excess.

"Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time can cause serious health problems, and even drinking too much on one occasion can put health and wellbeing at risk - after drinking to excess, people are much more at risk of suffering an accident."

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18 Oct 05 |  Northern Ireland


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