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Middle-class wine drinkers risk their health

Published:  23 July, 2008

Teenage binge-drinkers are not the only abusers of alcohol. A new study finds the middle-classes are also over-indulging

The habit of winding down, after a hard day at work, with a bottle of wine is a health risk for more than a quarter of adults in some of Britain's wealthiest towns.

One in four of the affluent residents in Runnymede, Surrey Heath, and Guildford, as well as the middle-classes of Harrogate and North Yorks are regularly consuming more than three bottles of wine a week, and consequently harming their health.

According to a study of drinking habits, involving every local authority in the country, more people drink to hazardous levels in affluent areas than in poorer ones.

The figures, commissioned by the Government and compiled by the North West Public Health Observatory, also, however, reveal a north-south divide. Although heavy, steady drinking is highest in the Surrey commuter belt, in Manchester, Liverpool and other northern cities, there are the highest proportions of adults drinking enough every week to do real harm to themselves or somebody else.

Researchers from the North West Public Health Observatory, at Liverpool John Moores University, categorised drinkers into those whose habit is hazardous - 22 to 50 units a week for men and 15 to 35 for women - and those whose drinking is harmful - over 50 for men and 35 for women.