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More people becoming 'stealth' drinkers

27th August 2009

Stronger alcoholic drinks on the market are leading people to drink more by 'stealth'.

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Mintel, which analyses UK consumption, suggests that despite drink sales remaining steady for almost a decade, the amount of alcohol each person consumes has risen by about 10%.

Many people were unaware of changes that saw wines and lagers become stronger.

The findings coincide with figures that show a third of men and a fifth of women drink more than the daily recommended limits of three to four units of alcohol per day for men, and two to three units for women.

Using data from its own resources, plus NHS and sales information from shops and bars, Mintel’s report reveals that since 2000 the amount of pure alcohol consumed has risen from 8.4 litres per year per person to 9.2 litres. The biggest rise was among home drinkers.

Drink sales have remained relatively stable but the alcohol content of wines is now around 13%, up from 11%, and lager is now generally 5%.

Mintel analyst Jonny Forsyth said: “Despite a greater societal concern with being healthy leading to a decline in drinking penetration, by stealth we are drinking more pure alcohol than ever.”

The government has encouraged manufacturers to offer clearer labelling on products but the charity Alcohol Concern still fears consumers have limited information to help them make healthy choices about their alcohol consumption.

Chief executive Don Shenker said: “The increasing strength of wines and beers means we are often drinking at harmful levels without realising it.”

 

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