Drinkers 'don't know safe levels'

A THIRD of regular drinkers in the region are consuming too much alcohol, a new survey has found.

Elliot Furniss

A THIRD of regular drinkers in the region are consuming too much alcohol, a new survey has found.

Results from The Big Drink Debate showed that 29% of those quizzed were drinking more than the recommended limits.

The review is the largest to have been carried out in the east into people's attitudes towards alcohol, with almost 7,000 “regular drinkers” - those who drink at least once a week - taking part.

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Only 6% of people who completed the survey classified themselves as a “heavy” drinker but almost a third actually regularly drink more than the guideline amounts.

It is recommended that adult men drink no more than three to four units a day or 21 each week while women should consume no more than two to three units a day or 14 each week.

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A unit is classed as being half a pint of ordinary strength lager or cider, a 25ml measure of 40% ABV spirit or a small glass of wine.

Dr Paul Cosford, regional director of public health, said the survey showed that less than 10% of people worried about the amount they drink.

He said: “However, around a third of men and a quarter of women drink more than recommended levels.

“A fifth said they thought the dangers of excess alcohol consumption were exaggerated, this may be because many of the health effects of alcohol have few immediate symptoms.”

He said people who regularly drink more than recommended limits may be damaging their long term health.

Simon How, senior public health programmes manager at the Government Office for the East of England, said more information and support might help people recognise that they were drinking above safe levels.

He said: “Most people agreed there ought to be more help and advice available for people to drink less - which shows there are some real opportunities for joint working between schools, the NHS and the alcohol industry to help people make informed decisions.

“The results from the Big Drink Debate have helped us get a picture of people's drinking habits in our region.”

For more information about alcohol and its effects go to http://www.units.nhs.uk/healthHarms.html.

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