Over-45s tend to drink more often, says ONS survey

Sherry in an elderly person's hand
Image caption Adults tend to drink more often as they get older, the survey suggests

Adults aged over 45 are three times as likely to drink alcohol every day as those aged under 45, results of a lifestyle survey suggest.

More than 22% of men aged 65 and over, but just 3% of men aged 16 to 24 drank almost every day - though younger adults were more likely to binge drink.

More than 13,000 people across Britain completed the Office for National Statistics survey.

Experts recommend three alcohol-free days a week.

The findings of theGeneral Lifestyle Survey 2010cover a range of topics including people's drinking and smoking habits.

On alcohol consumption, the survey found that 54% of adults drank alcohol at least once a week and 26% did so more than twice a week.

It also found that adults tended to drink more often as they got older.

Some 12% of women aged 65 and over drank alcohol almost every day compared with 1% of the 16 to 24 age group.

For men and women combined, 2% of the 16 to 24 age group, 5% of the 25 to 44 age group, 10% of the 45 to 64 age group and 16% of the 65 and over age group consumed alcohol almost every day in 2010.

The government recommendsthat men should not drink more than three to four units of alcohol per day and women should not drink more than two to three units per day.

Although younger adults were less likely to drink every day, the survey suggests that they were more likely to binge drink than older adults.

The survey results show that 24% of men aged 16 to 24 and 25% aged 25 to 44 drank more than eight units of alcohol in a single day.

This compared with 20% of men aged 45 to 64 and 7% of men aged over 65 drinking a similar amount on one day.

Men v women

The survey also found that men tended to drink more often than women - 16% of men consumed alcohol on five or more days a week compared with 10 per cent of women.

In addition, 12% of men had an alcoholic drink almost every day compared with 6% of women.

Overall, 87% of adults averaged at least three alcohol-free days a week.

Earlier this year the Royal College of Physicians said that people should have two to three alcohol-free days a week.

When it comes to smoking, the lifestyle survey found a fall in the prevalence of cigarette smoking over the past four decades - from 45% of adults smoking in 1974 to 20% in 2010.

But there has been a large increase in the proportion of smokers who roll their own cigarettes.

In 2010 39% of male smokers rolled their own compared with 18% in 1990.

'Unnoticed risks'

Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said that the new statistics revealed a hidden truth about the middle classes' use of alcohol.

"Many over-45s drink daily, and those from professional or managerial households drink more, especially women.

"Whilst drinking is decreasing amongst younger age groups, the middle-aged middle classes are taking unnoticed risks with their health, increasing their likelihood of suffering illnesses such as liver disease, stroke and cancer."

Chris Sorek, from alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said drinking too much is dangerous.

"Although it can be easy to find excuses to drink after a long day, many people are unaware that they are putting themselves at risk by drinking more than they think.

"Regularly going over the unit guidelines has serious implications for your health, from disturbed sleep and weight gain to cancer, heart and liver disease - which has no warning signs."

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