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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 00:19 GMT 01:19 UK
UK among worst 'binge drinkers'
Binge drinking is high among young people
UK girls are second highest binge drinkers in Europe
UK adults and adolescents are among the worst binge drinkers in Europe, says an Institute of Alcohol Studies report.

The average rate of binge drinking in the UK is about once every 13 days - the third highest rate in Europe and four times higher than in Italy.

And over the last 10 years, binge drinking in UK girls has increased to the second highest level in Europe.

A second survey by health charity DPP showed a quarter of Britons drink with the sole intention of "getting drunk".

But the Institute of Alcohol Studies concluded there were effective ways to reduce the alcohol-related harm that costs Europe 125 billion Euros a year.

"Far too many lives are lost to alcohol misuse, and yet the evidence suggests that many of these deaths could be prevented if governments, including our own, took a few simple steps"
Srabani Sen, Alcohol Concern

It recommended increased taxation and calculated that raising the price of alcohol in the EU would save over 9,000 deaths in the following year.

And warned that public education and voluntary partnerships with industry alone are very unlikely to reduce the burden of disease and death from alcohol misuse.

Strong Action

The researchers urged governments to take stronger action to intervene and regulate the alcohol market through measures such as price and availability.

Finland: 32
Ireland: 32
UK: 28
Belgium: 27
Denmark: 21
Germany: 21
France: 20
Netherlands: 18
Spain: 14
Greece: 12
Sweden: 10

The report found that alcohol is one of the worst public health problems in Europe after tobacco and high blood pressure, has a greater impact than obesity, lack of exercise or illicit drugs.

Five to nine million children were living in families damaged by alcohol and the 10,000 deaths that occur to bystanders or passengers from drink-drivers.

But although the figures show that UK citizens are among the worst binge drinkers in Europe, drinking levels per person (13 litres of pure alcohol per year) are just under the EU average of 15 litres of pure alcohol per year.

Research published by the health charity DPP: Developing Patient Partnerships found that 24% of Britons sometimes drink just to "get drunk".

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the figure is even higher in young people with 59% of 18-24 year olds and 43% of 25-34 year olds drinking to get drunk.

More than a quarter (27%) of working Brits have had times when they struggle to do their jobs because they are hungover, rising to 80% of 18-34 year olds.

Ireland: 32%
Netherlands: 28%
UK: 27%
Spain: 20%
Portugal: 15%
Percentage of 15-16-year-old students who have binged three or more times in last 30 days

Dr Anderson, lead author of the Institute of Alcohol Studies report and international public health expert, said: "What really makes the need for action so urgent is that we know what works in reducing this toll. What we now need is just to get on with it."

Professor Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Royal College of Physicians Alcohol Committee, said: "Clearly there are differences in the health impact of alcohol misuse across the member states in Europe, but important themes emerge that resonate with the problems facing the UK today.

"The college strongly supports the conclusion that governments have a responsibility to intervene, and that regulation of the alcohol market through price and availability, has the greater capability to reduce harm."

We work too many hours then try and cram in our leisure time
Kev, Chester, UK

Srabani Sen, Alcohol Concern's chief executive, said: "Far too many lives are lost to alcohol misuse, and yet the evidence suggests that many of these deaths could be prevented if governments, including our own, took a few simple steps."

"We hope this report acts as a wake-up call to the European Union and to the governments of Europe.

"Alcohol misuse is one of the most widespread public health problems that we are facing, and yet across Europe far too little is being done to reduce the damage it causes and save lives."

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