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ONS to reflect the 'nation's drinking habits'

Published:  23 July, 2008

UK: Office of National Statistics is to update methods to calculate alcohol consumption

In a report released today (Thursday), the ONS said it needed to update methodology used to estimate the nation's drinking habits.

The changes will mainly affect wine, but estimates for beers, lagers and ciders will also be bought up-to-date.

"Recent years have seen an increase in the availability of stronger wines. Especially those from the New World, while wine glasses larger than the traditional 125ml are increasingly popular in licensed premises," the ONS said in a statement.

Future ONS surveys will include a question relating to wine glass size, while at the same time the presumed alcoholic content of an average glass of wine will be increased.

David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: "As long as people are consistently underestimating their drinking, trends in the nation's drinking remain the same.

"Over the last five years ONS figures show the number of adults drinking excessively has fallen and fewer 16-24 year-olds are now binge drinking.

"All major producers already unit label their drinks and the Government's new publicity campaign will help to build further consumer awareness."

"Whilst today's ONS report is not based on any change in individuals' drinking habits, it highlights the importance - for Government, industry and others - of continuing to make drinkers aware of alcohol units and reminding people how units relate to responsible drinking.

Kate Blakeley, Diageo head of social responsibility, added: "New data is always useful but more importantly, this must be turned into action.

"Diageo has a firm focus on alcohol unit campaigns. Our current activity with Tesco means that 17 million adults will see unit messages in its stores every week.

"We are in our third year of running a creative unit awareness campaign for students across UK universities. We also provide unit information and responsible drinking reminders on the labels of our products."