The middle-aged of middle England are far more likely than young people to have a daily tipple, official figures revealed yesterday.
While young adults are more prone to binge-drinking, those over 45 are three times as likely as younger people to drink alcohol almost every day.
Very few young men in their teens and early 20s drink daily, and even fewer women. But more than one in eight of those over 45 drinks practically every day.
And when it comes to men of pensionable age, more than one in five opens a can or bottle of beer, wine or spirits every day.
Just over a fifth of men aged 65 and over drinking almost every day compared with just three per cent of men aged 16 to 24
The figures shift the focus away from young people when it comes to the abuse of alcohol.
Binge-drinking by the young has made them the target of frequent criticism for bringing scenes of violence and disorder to many city centres at weekends. But the findings from the Office for National Statistics reveal a picture of steady drinking by the middle-aged who are ‘taking unnoticed risks with their health’, according to one expert.
People in nearly 8,000 homes were questioned for the General Lifestyle Survey which found that 13 per cent of people over 45 – more than one in eight – drink ‘almost every day’. That compares to 4 per cent of younger people. ‘The evidence suggests that adults tend to drink more often as they get older,’ the ONS said.
For men over the age of 65, 22 per cent – more than one in five – drink almost every day.
They outnumber young men by more than seven to one – among men aged 16 to 24 only 3 per cent drink almost every day. Among women it is 12 to one. Twelve per cent of those over 65 drink daily compared to 1 per cent of teenagers and twenty-somethings.
The findings confirmed that middle-income earners drink more than working-class people.
In the homes of people with managerial or professional jobs, 40 per cent of men and 35 per cent of women drink more than the Government’s recommended safe levels, which are set at a maximum of four units daily for men and three for women. A unit of alcohol is half a pint of beer, while a small glass of wine amounts to 1½ units.
Fewer than a third of people in the homes of those with jobs classed as routine or manual drink over the limits. There is also more heavy drinking in middle-income homes.
But younger people remain more likely than their elders to be binge-drinkers. Just under a quarter of men below the age of 45 had drunk the equivalent of more than four pints of beer in a day in the week before they were asked the question, but only 20 per cent of men aged 45 to 64, and 7 per cent of pensioner men.
Just under a fifth of young women had drunk heavily recently, but only 11 per cent of those over 45 and 2 per cent of over-65s.
Eric Appleby, of Alcohol Concern, said: ‘These new statistics expose the hidden truth about alcohol and middle England.
‘The middle-aged middle classes are taking unnoticed risks with their health, increasing their likelihood of suffering illnesses such as liver disease, stroke and cancer.’
Chris Sorek, of Drinkaware, said: ‘Although it can be easy to find excuses to drink after a long day, many people are unaware that they are putting themselves at risk.’
The survey also found that only one in five people now smokes, compared to an estimated four out of five in the early 1950s and 45 per cent of the population in 1974.
Associated Newspapers Ltd
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