Page last updated at 23:02 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 00:02 UK

English turn to booze on holiday

Drinking in the sunshine
Drinking and socialising is a key part of most summer holidays

English holidaymakers are turning to drink on their breaks with the average adult consuming eight alcoholic drinks a day, a survey suggests.

That equates to 80 drinks over the course of the average holiday, or well over 200 units of alcohol.

More than a quarter said they ended up drinking three times more than normal.

But 70% of the 3,500 adults questioned by the Department of Health said they plan to make September the "new January" by cutting back.

NHS guidelines advise no more than two to three units a day for women or three to four units for men - roughly equal to a large glass of wine for women and two pints of beer for men.

Government figures show 10 million adults in England regularly exceed the recommended daily limits, increasing their risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease and various cancers.

Sticking within the NHS's recommended daily limits means you reduce your risk of serious conditions such as liver disease, cancer and stroke
Public health minister Gillian Merron

The Know Your Limits campaign survey found that on an average day on holiday, beer drinkers drank five pints, wine drinkers had four glasses of wine, and those who prefer spirits had five mixer drinks, such as vodka and coke.

According to the Department of Health, drinkers also admitted to downing four other alcoholic drinks, such as strong cocktails or shots, each day.

Cutting back

But most people plan to curb their drinking over the next month.

One in five surveyed pledged to take two days off drinking a week, 16% said they were going to stop drinking altogether between Monday and Thursday and 22% planned to generally go out less.

A further 12% said they intended to have a completely dry month.

Public health minister Gillian Merron said it was all too easy to slip into the habit of drinking too much on holiday.

"And it's always hard to get back into a normal routine.

"But we should try to use September as the new January and make a pledge to be a little more healthy.

"Sticking within the NHS's recommended daily limits means you reduce your risk of serious conditions such as liver disease, cancer and stroke."

As long as they are not paralytic or misbehaving, leave them be
Barbara S, Warwick

GP and TV medical commentator Dr Chris Steele said most people want to let their hair down on holiday but it was important to think about being healthy on your return.

"Cutting back on alcohol for September is a great place to start; if you find yourself drinking all or most days of the week, start by taking at least two days off each week."

Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said it was great news that many people were considering more moderate drinking following some overindulgence.

But he added: "Prolonged periods of regular excessive consumption is harmful to your body and increases your chances of suffering from more than 40 different conditions or illnesses."

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and chair of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance, called the figures "stark" and were a reminder that people need to keep an eye on how much they are drinking.

"When people are asked how much they drink, we know that they think of an ordinary week rather than one that includes a holiday or other special occasion, and even then most will underestimate their drinking."

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