Adults exceeding recommended daily benchmarks of alcohol on at least one day during the last week: Great Britain, 2004/05
In 2004/05, 73 per cent of men and 58 per cent of women in Great Britain had had an alcoholic drink on at least one day during the previous week.
In 1995 the government changed its guidelines on sensible drinking from weekly to daily benchmarks. Its advice is based on daily benchmarks of between three and four units per day for men and two to three units per day for women.
In 2004/05 men were more likely than women to exceed these benchmarks on at least one day during the previous week - 39 per cent of men compared with 22 per cent of women. Between 1998 and 2004/05 there was little change in the proportions of men and women exceeding the daily benchmarks.
Younger people were more likely than older people to exceed the daily benchmarks. Just under half (47 per cent) of men aged 16 to 24 had drunk more than four units on at least one day during the previous week compared with 20 per cent of men aged 65 and over. Among women, 39 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 had exceeded three units on at least one day compared with only 5 per cent of those aged 65 and over.
Heavy drinking - defined as over eight units a day for men and six units a day for women on at least one day during the previous week - was more common among men than women. In 2004/05, 22 per cent of men compared with 9 per cent of women had exceeded these amounts. Heavy drinking among both men and women has shown little change between 1998 and 2004/05.
Heavy drinking was also more common among young people: 32 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women aged 16 to 24 had drunk heavily on at least one day during the previous week. Among those aged 65 and over, these proportions were just 7 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.
Source: General Household Survey, 2004/05
Notes: Obtaining reliable information about drinking behaviour is difficult. Surveys consistently record lower levels of consumption than would be expected from data on alcohol sales. This is partly because people may under-estimate how much alcohol they consume.
Surveys derive alcohol consumption estimates from assumptions about the alcohol content of drinks, combined with information about the volume drunk. Over the last twenty years new types of alcoholic drink have been introduced, alcohol content of some drinks has increased and they are now sold in more variable quantities. Surveys try to keep pace with these changes but quite often develop independently. They may use different assumptions in estimating alcohol consumption and this may affect the comparability of results between surveys.