Wiganers boozing their way to an early grave

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THE amount of alcohol consumed in Wigan could be much higher than previously thought.

Research carried out has found that across the country suggests as many as three-quarters of people may be drinking above the recommended daily alcohol limit.

University College London researchers compared alcohol sales figures with surveys of what people said they drank.

They found there was a significant shortfall with almost half of the alcohol sold unaccounted for in the consumption figures given by drinkers.

The study found that 19 per cent more men than previously thought were regularly exceeding their recommend daily limit – and 26 per cent more women.

Total consumption across the week was also higher than officially thought – with 15 per cent more men, and 11 per cent more women drinking above the weekly guidelines.

The current recommendation set by the UK Chief Medical Officers is not to regularly exceed four units per day for men and three units a day for women; the Royal College of Physicians recommends weekly alcohol limits of 21 units for men and 14 units for women – although these are currently under review.

A unit of alcohol is roughly equivalent to half a pint of ordinary strength beer, or nearly one small glass of wine.

Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of public health for the borough of Wigan, said: “We recognise that is easy for people to under estimate how much alcohol they are actually drinking and it can be difficult to keep track of how much is consumed.

“However, we also know that regular drinking over the recommended guidelines increases chances of suffering cancer, heart disease, liver disease and high blood pressure so it’s really important to keep an eye on how much we are drinking.

“Help is available by contacting Drinkline on 0800 917 8282.”

The charity Alcohol Concern suggests irregular and chaotic drinking behaviour may play a part: “When we’re totting up our drinks total we don’t always count some occasions as proper drinking. We may underestimate drink sizes and their alcoholic content, and not count holidays and special occasions like weddings, birthdays and Christmas when we often drink a great deal more than usual.”

The researchers suggest that government drinking guidelines need to reflect actual consumption instead of reported drinking – especially when ascertaining what levels are associated with harm.

The Department of Health says this will be taken into consideration in their alcohol consumption review.

It said: “We already know people underestimate what they drink and many drink too much. That’s why we work to help people make healthier decisions, including the recent Change For Life campaign to help them track consumption and understand the impact on their health.

“We’re also tackling excessive drinking through our proposed minimum unit price at 45p per unit, tougher licensing laws, more GP risk assessments, better access to specialist nurses and more specialised treatment.”