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ONS data suggest young women are outdrinking men

New Office for National Statistics display evidence of a continuing high level of heavy drinking among young women.

Figures from the ‘Drinking Habits Amongst Adults, 2012’ report released today show that despite fewer Britons drinking alcohol at least once within the last week compared with last year (60% in 2012 to 58% in 2011), the same proportion of women as men aged 16-24 years of age exceeded the recommended number of units drunk in that period (30%).

The statistics also indicated that although fewer young people drank in the last week compared to all other age groups (50%; 64% UK average), those who did drink were most likely to do so above the recommended guidelines on their heaviest drinking day of the week (62%; 52% UK average). In this age category, a greater proportion of women (64%) drank above recommended limits on their heaviest drinking day of the week than men (61%).

The Department of Health advises men consume no more than 4 units in any given day, women no more than 3 units, and for all drinkers to have at least 2 alcohol-free days a week.

Other key figures were:

  • In 2012 58% of adults (people aged 16 and over) living in private households in Great Britain drank alcohol at least once in the week before being interviewed. This proportion has been declining both for men and women. Between 2005 and 2012 the proportion of men who drank alcohol in the week before being interviewed fell from 72% to 64%, and the proportion of women fell from 57% to 52%.
  • The proportion of adults who drank frequently (those who drank alcohol on at least five days in the week before being interviewed) has also been declining. Between 2005 and 2012 there was a fall from 22% to 14% in the proportion of men who were frequent drinkers, and from 13% to 9% in the proportion of women. In 2012 people aged 65 and over were most likely to have drunk frequently, both for men (23%) and women (14%).
  • Young people (those aged 16-24) were more likely to have drunk very heavily (more than 12 units for men and 9 units for women) at least once during the week (27%), with similar proportions for men (26%) and women (28%). Only 3% of those aged 65 and over were very heavy drinkers.
  • Very heavy drinkers were five times more likely than other drinkers to have drunk strong beer/stout/lager/cider, and more than twice as likely to have drunk spirits or liqueurs, on their heaviest drinking day in the week before interview.
  • Smokers (25%) were more than twice as likely as non-smokers (11%) to have drunk very heavily at least once during the week.