Health warning to middle-aged ‘pre-loaders’

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Middle-aged Wiganers have been warned they are taking serious risks with their health by “loading” drinks before and after nights out.

The borough was highlighted last year in public health statistics as one of Britain’s worst towns for dangerous drinking.

The latest results suggest an alarming number of people aged over 35 drink at home before they head off for a night out before returning home for more drinks.

That view is reflected by the number of Wiganers admitted to hospital because of excess drinking, with latest figures making the borough the 17th worst in the country.

Official figures show the town has a rate of 873 admissions per 100,000 of the population.

John Holmes, a senior research fellow with the University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group, said people were drinking 14 units each on average - about a bottle and a half of wine - per occasion.

He said: “It might be that you’re going out to dinner with friends and you open a bottle of wine before you go, or you go for Sunday lunch and then have a beer in the garden afterwards.

“For those in middle-age, it’s probably not drinking before going out and tearing up the town, but it leads to them consuming the same amount as younger age groups, which obviously affects their health long-term if they’re doing it regularly.”

The study, published online in the journal Addiction, found that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of more than 60,000 people questioned about their drinking in the previous week had been out drinking in multiple locations on one night and had drunk heavily.