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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
UK 'tops binge drinking league'
Image of a glass of wine
Drinking levels have fallen in the last five years
People in the UK top the western European binge drinking league, a study shows.

Drinkers in the UK consume 6.3 units of alcohol - equivalent of 2.2 pints of strong lager - on a night out, market analysts Datamonitor found.

This compared to an average European drinking rate of 5.1 units - 1.8 pints.

However, the study also revealed drinking rates across the continent were falling, prompting suggestions the days of binge drinking were numbered.

Datamonitor analyst John Band said people across Europe were starting to spend less time in pubs and bars.

Whether people are drinking a lot at home or in pubs it is still harmful to their health if they have too much
Alcohol Concern spokeswoman

"Going out is becoming less and less about drinking, and alcohol consumption is becoming something that people do at home.

"It's clear that the culture of binge drinking is on its way out, with British consumption per occasion falling closer in line with the levels seen on the continent."

Average UK nightly drinking levels fell by 0.5 of a unit since 2000.

But the rate of 6.3 units was still higher than in Germany at 5.5 units, Spain, 5.3 units and France, 4.9 units. The Netherlands and Sweden were at the bottom of the drinking league, consuming 3.9 and 3.1 units per night out.

Despite the fall in drinking experts are still concerned about the UK's drinking culture.

A spokeswoman for Alcohol Concern said Britons were still "regularly drinking too much".


"Whether people are drinking a lot at home or in pubs it is still harmful to their health if they have too much.

"It is easy to think if they are not in pubs it is solved because anti-social behaviour and crime falls, but that is not the full story."

Other research also warned drinking habits could change in the future.

A study by experts at the University of the West of England suggested when the smoke ban starts in summer 2007 pubs and bars will attract more female drinkers, leading to an increase in binge drinking.

And research by the Department for Work and Pensions revealed mothers who are working or in the most affluent households drink more than mothers from poorer families.

Nearly one in five mothers from the top income group said they drank three or four times a week, compared to just 6.5% in the lowest.

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