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Wine trade concerned over alcohol statistics

Published:  31 May, 2012

Alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware has warned that having a few glasses of wine can be classed as binge drinking.

A report published today by Health and Social Care Information Centre on alcohol drinkign behaviour and its costs to the community, showed a rise in hospital admissions of 2.1%. However the study also identified the problems associated with how hospital breakdowns are calculated.

According to the report, hospital admissions in 2010/2011 directly attributable to alcohol consumption were up by 2.1% on the previous year to 198,900. This figure represents a 40% jump since 2002/2003.

But in 2010/11, there were 1.17 million alcohol related admissions, if you include primary and secondary diagnoses. This represents an 11% increase on the previous year, and twice as many as in 2002/2003.

The report also found a downward trend in the proportion of adults drinking in the week prior to interview. In 1998 75% of men and 59% of women drank in the week prior to interview compared to 68% of men and 54% of women in 2010.

Thirteen percent of secondary school pupils aged 11 to 15 reported drinking alcohol in the week prior to interview in 2010 compared with 18% of pupils in 2009 and 26% in 2001.

The report uses two methods to calculate drink-related hospital admissions, but states that: "Information based only on primary diagnoses allow an uncomplicated picture of trends in alcohol-related admissions over time although will provide an incomplete picture of admissions resulting from or affected by alcohol consumption. " The ways used to calculate hospital admission linked to drinking are currently under public consultation.

Drinkaware's chief executive Chris Sorek said the figures confirmed "the worrying trend of Britain's hidden binge drinkers (25-44 year olds) who drink more heavily and more regularly than young adults".

"Many people don't realise that regularly having a few glasses of wine at the end of a stressful day is classed as binge drinking and can have long-term implications for their health.

"While it is encouraging to see green shoots of behaviour change, much more must be done to help people make healthier choices about alcohol. Small changes such as reducing your glass size and choosing lower alcohol drinks can make the difference between enjoying alcohol responsibly and putting your health at risk."

WSTA interim chief executive Gavin Partington said it welcomed the consultation into how alcohol-related hospital admissions are recorded. "It is in everyone's interest that we have an accurate and consistent picture of the scale of such admissions."

"While the continued rise in alcohol-related deaths is concerning, the long-term downward trend in adults drinking over the recommended limits is positive.

"The decline in underage drinking and the fact that young people are themselves becoming less tolerant of drinking amongst their peers is particularly welcome. It suggests messages about the risks of underage and excessive drinking are getting through."

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: "It is encouraging that the overall national context around drinking patterns and harms is showing improvement but these statistics yet again highlight that some local areas have disproportionately high alcohol-related harms. The evidence is becoming clearer that targeted action at a local level will be most effective in bringing about the culture change needed."