A new study has now included data for 'special occasion' drinking – bank holidays, birthdays, weddings – which means Britons are consuming more alcohol than was previously thought

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Image: We are drinking more than we previously thought, says new report

Photo: Thor /  CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: geishaboy500​

Many surveys simply look at a normal week of drinking, says study

Picture this: it’s the weekend, it’s your birthday and you pop open a couple of bottles of bubbly to celebrate. It’s OK though, because celebration drinks don’t count, right?


Not quite.


Researchers have said that alcohol consumption in England has been underestimated, with at least 12 million more bottles of wine being drunk per week than originally reported in the official statistics.


According to scientists at Liverpool John Moores University, most research focuses on 'typical drinking' and does not account for 'special occasion' drinking.


How did they discover this? Well, the data from previous studies only accounted for 60% of the alcohol sold in England. However, researchers say they have found these missing units – and they are consumed on holidays, weddings and bank holidays.


Professor Mark Bellis, the report's author, said: “The problem is that surveys usually ask about typical drinking. This means summer holidays, bank holidays, weddings and many other special occasions when consumption often increases are left out.


“As a result, nationally we underestimate how much we drink and as individuals we can turn a blind eye to our heavier drinking periods when we calculate personal consumption.


“For many people though, these sessions add substantial amounts of alcohol to their annual consumption.”


The research, which was published in the journal BMC Medicine, is based on interviews conducted with 6,085 randomly selected members of the public, who were questioned about their typical drinking patterns as well as those outside usual circumstances.


They found that their alcohol consumption was significantly higher than what would have been reported before.


For 25 to 35-year-olds, factoring in special occasion drinking added 18 units (144g) of alcohol per week.


Researchers say the results could have important implications for public health.


Forgotten what the recommended alcohol allowances are? Here you go: 3-4 units per day (a pint and a half of beer) for men and 2-3 (a pint of beer) for women. You’re welcome.