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15th September 2014

Nine out of 10 people unaware of UK’s changing drinking habits

Almost 9 out of 10 adults in Britain (89%) are unaware that British people are drinking less than they were a decade ago, and binge drinking is in declineaccording to a new YouGov poll1.


Rates of binge drinking – drinking double the recommended guidelines in one day/session – have dropped significantly with the steepest fall among 16-24 year olds2. The proportion of men aged 16-24 binge drinking declined 31% between 2005 and 2012 while for women of the same age the drop was 37%2.


The number of people drinking on five or more days per week has fallen since 2005, from 22% to 14% for men, and from 13% to 9% for women2.  Alcohol consumption per capita adult (15+) is also down by 18.1% since 2004 according to the latest figures published by the British Beer & Pub Association3.  Comparable data across 24 European countries (from 2011, the latest available figures) ranks the UK below the European average and below countries including France, Germany and Spain4.


Despite these significant declines, a staggering 89% of adults polled by YouGov were unaware of the changes in the UK’s drinking habits with just 11% thinking we drink less than we did ten years ago.


When respondents were informed and asked about reasons for this change, the British public cited that we are becoming more health conscious and drink less as part of a healthier lifestyle (46%) followed by changing social norms making binge drinking socially unacceptable (33%). Other factors included changing population demographics among ethnic groups (24%), increased information and education about alcohol consumption (16%) better law enforcement (16%) and wider availability of no/low alcohol drinks (16%).


Portman Group Chief Executive Henry Ashworth said,


“There’s is no doubt about it, our relationship with alcohol is changing for the better and we should acknowledge the seismic shift that’s happened over the past decade. People are more interested in living healthier lifestyles, we understand the effects of excessive consumption thanks to better information and we are not prepared to tolerate anti-social behaviour in the same way we did.


“The fact is that binge drinking has plummeted and the vast majority of us drink within sensible limits. While we still don’t know exactly why this is happening, it is vitally important that the alcohol debate recognises these significant societal changes and continues to build on the positive social norms.”


To support a culture of responsible drinking, drinks producers and retailers have announced a new set of voluntary commitments5 to tackle alcohol misuse and promote responsible drinking, ranging from supporting local partnership schemes to life-skills training in schools.




For more information contact:            Portman Group Press Office

020 7290 1463/1460 or mobile 07850 773689/07730 525701


Date of issue:              5 September 2014


Notes to editors


  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,017 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th – 14th August 2014.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  2. Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, Drinking Habits Amongst Adults, 2012.–2012/index.html
  3. British Beer & Pub Association’s Statistical Handbook 2014
  4. Health at a Glance: Europe 2012, OECD
  5. Department of Health Public Health Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network
  6. The Portman Group is the responsibility body for the UK alcohol industry.  Its role is to lead on best practice in alcohol social responsibility through the actions of its member companies. It is funded by nine member companies: AB InBev UK; Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands UK; Carlsberg UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Molson Coors Brewing Company UK; Pernod Ricard UK; SAB Miller and SHS Drinks.