1 in 4 adults in England drink at harmful levels

7 March 2017: Alcohol consumption statistics published by Public Health England today show that 1 in 4 adults drank over the current low-risk guideline of 14 units per week in 2011-14.

The statistics also showed that there is regional variation in consumption, with 1 in 3 people in the North East drinking over the low-risk guideline. In addition, the figures show enough alcohol was sold in England for every drinker to consume 19.3 units each per week, with 65% of all alcohol being sold in the off-trade.

Responding to the publication of today’s figures, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance (UK), said:

“We are very concerned by the high numbers of people drinking at these levels. Drinking above the UK’s chief medical officers’ guideline of 14 units (for both men and women) places you at increased risk of illnesses like cancer, heart disease and liver disease.

“The fact that two-thirds of alcohol is being sold in the off-trade also means that people are able to drink at these levels very cheaply.

“With the budget tomorrow, now is the time for the government to increase duty on the cheapest alcohol products which are disproportionately responsible for harm.

“It is also essential that the risks associated with drinking above low-risk levels are communicated to the public, so that the public are empowered to make informed choices about their consumptions. We need mandatory labelling of alcohol products, and mass media campaigns informing consumers of the health harms of drinking.”