Health

Baby boomer alcohol harm 'more likely than in young'

  • 12 October 2012
  • From the section Health
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Glasses of wine
Image caption A variety of methods have been used by countries to try to curb problem drinking

More NHS money is spent treating alcohol-related illness in baby boomers than young people, a study says.

The Alcohol Concern report found the cost of hospital admissions linked to heavy drinking among 55 to 74-year-olds in 2010-11 was more than £825m.

That was 10 times the figure for 16 to 24-year-olds.

In total, nearly £2bn was spent on alcohol-related in-patient admissions in England, the report found.

This comes as more than 10 million people in England are drinking above the recommended levels, according to the report.

The sum spent on treating the baby boomer generation went on 454,317 patients, compared with the 54,682 under-24s who were treated at a cost of £64m.

Problem drinking is a contributing factor for a host of diseases, including liver, kidney and heart disease, as well as increasing the risk of injury.

In many ways the findings are not surprising as the effects of drinking are more likely to catch up with people later in life.

'Expensive care'

But the charity said part of the reason for compiling the report, which was based on NHS figures, was to break down the data by individual local authority area.

The figures have been collated in a clickable map.

It hopes the information, compiled with funding from drug company Lundbeck, will be used by councils next year when they take responsibility for problem drinking as part of their new remit covering public health under the shake-up of the NHS.

Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby said he hoped they would use the findings to help them focus their energy on schemes to tackle problem drinking.

"It is a common perception that young people are responsible for the increasing cost of alcohol misuse, but our findings show that in reality this is not the case.

"It is the middle-aged, and often middle-class drinker, regularly drinking above recommended limits, who are actually requiring this complex and expensive NHS care."

Liver disease expert Sir Ian Gilmore, a former president of the Royal College of Physicians, who has long campaigned about alcohol misuse, agreed. He said: "It is the unwitting chronic middle-aged drinkers who are taking serious risks with their health."

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