We surveyed a representative sample of 8,906 UK adults aged 18 to 85 online, between 14th May and 5th June 2018, to investigate drinking behaviours, alcohol and lifestyle and alcohol moderation.
Aims and Objectives
The main objectives of this research were to:
- Provide an overview of adults’ drinking behaviour in the UK, including how frequently and how much they are drinking, in addition to their alcohol purchasing behaviour.
- Explore attitudes towards alcohol, drinking occasions and motivations for drinking.
- Investigate, in detail, attitudes to alcohol moderation and the strategies, tools and resources used to moderate drinking behaviour.
- Consider alcohol, and alcohol moderation, in the context of wider perceptions of healthy lifestyles and other lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise.
Risky drinking and perceptions
- 1 in 5 adults (20%) reported drinking over the UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of 14 units per week in the week prior to being surveyed, 28% of men and 12% of women drink over these guidelines.
- 86% of those drinking at low risk levels (up to 14 units per week) say that they don’t think they drink too much, which falls to 43% of those in the medium risk category (15-34 units for women or 15-49 units for men) and 15% of those in the high risk category (35+ units for women or 50+ for men).
- 42% of drinkers believe that they are drinking significantly less than other men or women their age. 20% believe they drink ‘about the same’ and only 14% believe that they drink either a bit or significantly more than other men or women their age. The graph below illustrates this split for men and women.
Base: All UK adults aged 18-85 who drink alcohol: Total (n=7,902); Male (n=3,950); Female (n=3,952). Respondents were asked: ‘Compared to males/females your age how much do you think you drink?’
Views on health and drinking
- 84% of UK adults, and 84% of UK drinkers, consider it important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- 82% of those in the low risk category (drinking up to 14 units in the last week) believe that their drinking has a neutral or positive impact on their health. This falls to half (50%) of those in the medium risk category (15-34 units for women or 15-49 units for men), and 26% of those in the high risk category (35+ units for women or 50+ for men).
- The most reported technique to moderate drinking was taking drink free days during the week (72%). The graph below presents an overview of the relative popularity of other moderation techniques.
Base: All UK adults aged 18-85 who drink alcohol (n=7,902). Respondents were asked: ‘Here are some things people have said they do to moderate their drinking. Have you tried any of these?’
- 13% of UK drinkers who have tried to cut down in the last two years made the decision following advice from a health professional, with 10% opting to cut down due to advice from a spouse/partner.
- Drinkers with low self-efficacy scores (i.e. those with less belief in their ability to do what’s needed to achieve their goal) are more likely to have thought about cutting down their drinking due to advice from family and friends (14% vs. 8% of those with average or high self-efficacy scores), indicating that social support and advice is a particularly important trigger for people in this category.
- While men are more likely to drink over the low risk drinking guidelines than women (28% vs. 12%) and are also more likely to say that they have at some point attempted to cut down on their alcohol consumption (45% vs. 39%), men are less likely than women to use moderation techniques (39% vs. 56%).
Drinkaware invites researchers to access the Drinkaware Monitor for independent analysis. For more information, please contact the Director of Evidence and Impact, Dr John Larsen, JLarsen@drinkaware.co.uk.