Shhh … Alcohol Consumption Is Down Again

by Dick Puddlecote

Did you know that the latest NHS statistics on alcohol consumption were released just before the Jubilee?

You didn’t? Well, I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make because the BBC didn’t seem to notice it either. Perhaps it’s because they were all camped out around the Mall … or that the health section’s skeleton staff would have had to report on this little “key fact”.

There has been a long-term downward trend in the proportion of adults who reported drinking in the week prior to interview. In 1998 75 per cent of men and 59 per cent of women drank in the week prior to interview compared to 68 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women in 2010.

In fact, searching the text in Google, it would seem that it was missed by all media outlets apart from those in the drinks trade.

Perhaps I was looking for something too upbeat. The Mail, for example, picked up on the statistics with this lurid headline.

Number of people being admitted to hospital because of alcohol jumps 10 per cent in a year

There is no mention whatsoever of the good news in the NHS report, but a rent-a-quote from Alcohol Concern is given ample publicity.

Sadly (for journalism) even the ‘fact’ they chose to lead on isn’t accurate, as they’d have discovered if bothering to read further down the same paragraph of the press release.

Comparisons over time in the broad measure are complicated by changes in recording practices over the period. In order to estimate the trend once changes in recording practices are accounted for, a method to adjust the national figures has been devised which is presented in Appendix G of the report. Adjusted figures show a 49 per cent increase from an estimated 783,300 in 2002/03 but a 3 per cent decrease from 1,208,100 in 2009/10.

There are more statistical flies in the ointment than that as well – with regard to an increasingly wider net being thrown around up to 20 sub-diagnoses over the past decade – but only, err, DAILY MAIL REPORTER can explain how a real terms decrease is emblazoned on its pages as a “jump” of “10 per cent in a year”.

And, as we know, such figures are also skewed since all manner of admissions not necessarily to do with alcohol are included. “For example, 46% of pedestrian traffic accidents involving women aged 25 to 44 are estimated to be attributable to alcohol.” [6.18]

“What about the children?”, I can hear you cry. Well, it’s good news there too.

13% of secondary school pupils aged 11 to 15 reported drinking alcohol in the week prior to interview in 2010 compared with 18 per cent of pupils in 2009 and 26 per cent in 2001.

And I can now update this graph (or I would if I did graphs as good as this) with yet another decrease in overall consumption (table 2.5).

Women drinking over the paltry 14 units per week decreased from 18% to 17% while men remained static at 26%, but the average weekly units fell from 16.4 to 15.9 for men and 8.0 to 7.6 for women.

In public health terms, this is cracking news, isn’t it?

Well, not if you’re trying to make a case for an urgent minimum price for alcohol it’s not, no. Best keep it all hush hush then, eh?

7 responses to “Shhh … Alcohol Consumption Is Down Again

  1. Yeah,sorry I cannot afford to drink my beer now because the price of wheatbeer has gone up a whopping 50 p to 2 quid and I don;t like anything else,except cidres and taht is up over a pond to 2-70 at Tesco.
    So I am not getting my basic units and I cannot say it has improved my health as I am like a bear with a sore head now.
    Since I stopped drinking the Cricketers one of the first Bilderberger Pubs where Lizzy1 ,and Sir Walter Raleigh used to frequent,has closed.
    The parallels were very similar as now,as discussions took place over a jug of ale to determine who to invade next,plunder all the resources,and democratise the native population.
    Howzat cried the cricketer from the pavilion,but now Democracy Dave and George have shut down the pavillion where the 2 minute rule came from in the 1700’s as it is a long distance from the pitch.One can only hope the pavillion at Chipping Norton is enduring the same problems.

  2. Why is the state so energised about intake of just 8 to 15.9 units per week? I sense a government con in the guise of caring for the public.

  3. OT but 1 in 10 deaths are caused by alcohol. 1 in 10. Can libertarians tolerate any alcohol use in society when faced with the death and destruction it causes to innocent bystanders and to families and to the addicted? Is there any call for such a substance in a civilised society? IDK

  4. We have laws already to punish those who harm others, and if you believe the 1 in 10 figure you’re a fool.

  5. Is Xenu saying that the deaths of those people who he says are the 1/10 of all deaths, would not happen at all if they did not drink alcoholic drinks? What planet is this fella on? And how is it that these people would be deathless otherwise? Or is this a spamattack by “Alcohol Concern”, as is happening to the blogs that highlight the anti-smoking-Nazis of ASH and the government and the BMA, designed to get us pushed down the Google-rankings?,

  6. Hello I’m not a spammer; but as you can see I did log the comment as OT. The 1 in 10 figures are correct for deaths at work according to the HSE and I’ve heard similiar for the general population. I don’t give a flying fuck if people kill themselves with alcohol; it’s the passers by (Rhea Page is lucky to be alive) and the families of those concerned. My point was, as libertarians, what would be the position on people guzzling solvents that cause chaos to the general population? I wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to get this site pushed down the google rankings.

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