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Alcohol: Just over one in five men and one in eight women drink twice the recommended daily limit

New data on gambling and on physical activity also among national survey findings.

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

Just over one in five men and one in eight women surveyed about their drinking habits said they had drunk twice the recommended daily alcohol limit within the previous week , a new Health and Social Care Information Centre report shows.

Results from the 2012 Health Survey for England (HSE), which surveyed more than 8,000 adults and 2,000 children, reflect a continuation of the gradual decline in drinking over recent years.

Today's report estimates that among the adult population in England in 2012:

  • 67 out of every 100 men and 53 out of every 100 women had drunk alcohol in the previous week, compared to 72 men and 58 women in 2006.
  • 37 out of every 100 men and 28 out of every 100 women drank more than the recommended daily limit on one day in the previous week, compared to 41 men and 33 women in 2006.
  • 21 out of every 100 men and 13 out of every 100 women drank more than twice the recommended daily limit on one day in the previous week, compared to 24 men and 16 women in 2006.

The HSE provides information that cannot be obtained from other sources on a range of aspects of public health; including trends in physical activity, drinking, smoking and obesity.

The 2012 survey also included new questions about gambling behaviour, which showed 68 out of every 100 men and 61 out of every 100 women said they had gambled in the last year. Key findings include:

  • The National Lottery was the most popular gambling activity (56 out of every 100 men and 49 out of every 100 women), followed by scratch cards (19 out of every 100 men and 20 out of every 100 women), while 12 out of every 100 men and eight out of every 100 women bet on horseracing.
  • Excluding those who only participated in the National Lottery:
    - 46 out of every 100 men and 40 out of every 100 women gambled on other activities during the 12 months.
    - People aged 16 to 34 were most likely to gamble, with likelihood then decreasing as age increased.
  • Gambling prevalence was generally highest in higher income households and lowest in low income households with the exception of bingo and scratch cards, which low income households were more likely to gamble on.

The 2012 survey also included a special focus on physical activity, which shows in 2012:

  • 67 out of every 100 men and 55 out of every 100 women aged 16 or over met the new UK guidelines for aerobic activity. These proportions are similar to 2008.
  • Men recorded about 4.9 hours of sedentary time per weekday, down from 5.0 hours in 2008, while women recorded 4.7 hours, a fall from 5.0. On weekend days, the average sedentary time decreased from 5.6 hours in 2008 to 5.4 hours in 2012 among men and from 5.3 to 5.1 hours among women.

Along with today's report, the HSCIC has also launched a new HSE website in partnership with NatCen Social Research. The new site presents the HSE data by theme area and is intended to be helpful in understanding the data. This can be found at www.hscic.gov.uk/health-survey-england

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said:"The Health Survey for England has provided an insight into the health, fitness and lifestyle of our nation for the last 20 years and this year's report makes for fascinating reading.

"Drinking among adults continues to show signs of gradual decline, but nevertheless the fact that one in five men and one in eight women reported drinking more than twice the recommended daily limit of alcohol in the week before the survey is of clear interest to policy makers and society in general."

The full report is at: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/hse2012

ENDS


Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.
  2. The Health Survey for England is an annual survey, monitoring the health of the population. The Joint Health Surveys Unit of NatCen Social Research and the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL (University College London) are commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre to carry out the survey. Each survey consists of core questions and measurements, plus modules of questions on specific issues that change periodically. The 2012 survey interviewed 8,291 adults and 2,043 children.
  3. Current government guidelines advise that daily drinking should not regularly exceed 4 units for men and 3 units for women. A unit of alcohol constitutes 10ml by volume of pure alcohol. half a pint of normal strength beer, lager, stout, cider, shandy (less than 6 per cent ABV), one 25ml measure of spirits or liqueurs = 1 unit. One small glass of wine equates to 1.5 units.
  4. In 2011, the Chief Medical Officers of the four UK countries introduced revised guidelines for physical activity that reflected current evidence on what is needed to benefit health and the incremental benefits from undertaking physical activity. These include guidelines on aerobic activity; muscle-strengthening activities; and activities to improve balance and co-ordination. The guidelines for aerobic activity recommend that adults should spend at least 150 minutes per week in moderately intensive physical activity, in bouts of ten minutes or longer, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of the two. The 2011 recommendations for children aged 5 to 18 are that children should be at least moderately active for at least 60 minutes every day.
  5. Alcohol data are collected annually for the HSE. Comparison to 2006 is used as the longest continuous comparable time series used in publications. Physical Activity data are not collected annually, data were last collected in 2008 and is used as this is the latest comparable measurement.
  6. Sedentary behaviour is defined as any activity (excluding sleeping) spent primarily sitting or lying down, which involves expenditure of less than 1.5 metabolic equivalents (MET). The standard metabolic equivalent is a unit used to estimate the intensity of physical activity. The baseline energy used by the body at rest in one minute is defined as 1 MET.
  7. For media enquiries please contact media@hscic.gov.uk or 0845 257 6990.
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