This chapter presents information about adult alcohol consumption in England. It looks at who in the population drinks, frequency of drinking, average weekly consumption and alcohol consumption in the last week.
Who drinks alcohol?
- In 2014, a minority of adults, 18% (15% of men and 21% of women) did not drink alcohol.
Average weekly consumption
- The majority, 63% of men and 62% of women, drank at levels considered to be at lower risk of alcohol-related harm: that is 21 units or less per week for men and 14 units or less for women. The remaining 22% of men and 16% of women drank more than this, including 17% of men and 12% of women who drank at increasing risk levels, and 5% of men and 4% of women who drank at higher risk levels (more than 50 units a week for men, more than 35 units for women).
- Alcohol consumption varied with age. Among men, the prevalence of drinking more than 21 units a week increased with age and was most common among men aged 65-74, 30% of whom drank at this level. Among women, the proportion who drank more than 14 units a week declined between the ages of 25 and 44, and was highest among women aged 55-64 (22%).
Minority ethnic groups
- The proportion of adults who did not drink alcohol varied between ethnic groups. 55% of Asian men and 41% of Black men did not drink alcohol, compared with 9% of White men. Similarly, 74% of Asian women and 38% of Black women did not drink alcohol, compared with 15% of White women.
- The proportion of White men who drank more than 21 units a week was higher than the proportions of men in other groups: 25%, compared with 6% of Black men and 6% of Asian men. The same was true for women who drank more than 14 units a week: 19% of White women, compared with 6% of Black women and 2% of Asian women.
Drinking in the last week
- The proportions of men who drank alcohol on five or more days in the last week increased from 5% of those aged 16-24 to 29% of those aged 65-74. Among women, 2% aged 16-24 drank on five or more days in the last week, increasing to 14% of those aged 55-74.
- Among men who drank alcohol in the last week, 57% had drunk more than 4 units on at least one day and 29% had drunk more than 8 units in a day. Among women, 50% of those who had drunk in the last week had exceeded 3 units on at least one day, and 22% had exceeded 6 units.