Health

Alcohol: 2.5 million people bust weekly limit in a day

Man drinking beer

Around 2.5 million people in Great Britain - 9% of drinkers - consume more than the new weekly recommended limit for alcohol in a single day, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

The 2014 data predates the new limit of 14 units of alcohol per week for men which began in January.

Although habits may start to change, experts say the figures are concerning.

The chief medical officer says there is no safe level of regular drinking.

The ONS figures show 58% of people - 28.9 million - drink some alcohol in a typical week.

This figure is lower than a decade ago but has remained stable over the last few years.

Young people are less likely to have consumed alcohol in the last week than those who are older.

Wine (including champagne) is the most popular choice of alcohol.


  • Single shot of spirits (25ml): 1 unit
  • Standard (175ml) glass of wine: 2.1 units
  • Large (250ml) glass of wine: 3 units
  • Pint of 4%-strength beer: 2.3 units
  • Pint of 5%-strength beer: 2.8 units
  • Pint of strong cider (8%): 4.5 units

Booze calculator


Of the 2.5 million who bust the weekly alcohol guideline in a single day, the majority were men. The most common age group was 25-44-year-olds, closely followed by 45-64-year-olds.

The most popular beverage for those who had drunk more than 14 units on their heaviest drinking day was normal strength beer, stout, lager or cider.

Of all those who said they drank alcohol in the last week, the percentage who exceeded the weekly limit in a day was highest in Wales and Scotland.

Jackie Ballard, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "Alcohol continues to be the leading risk factor for deaths among both men and women aged 15-49 and is linked to over 60 medical conditions including cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.

"We need to raise awareness of the health harms.

"When it comes to alcohol, there are no safe limits of consumption."

Sarah Toule, from the World Cancer Research Fund, said: "When it comes to cancer prevention, people should avoid alcohol as much as possible as any amount increases the risk of cancer.

"If they are going to drink, it's important not to binge-drink and have no more than seven drinks a week spread over at least three days."

A spokesman from the Portman Group, which represents the drinks industry, said: "The vast majority of adults drink sensibly and safely; part of a decade-long improvement in our relationship with alcohol in this country. Underage-drinking, alcohol-related crime and drink driving are also in sustained decline.

"ONS figures are useful in highlighting the specific regions and communities that still need support and the best way to achieve this is through targeted local partnerships between local authorities, health services, businesses and voluntary groups."

Public Health England said it was looking at the best ways to help tackle problem drinking.

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