Middle class wine drinkers have again come under fire from the UK government after figures published yesterday show excessive home consumption is putting their health at risk.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) middle-aged, middle class professionals are more likely to exceed recommended daily levels of alcohol consumption than the working classes, with twice as many drinking every night of the week.
The study, which was conducted in 2007, also claims middle class drinkers are more likely to indulge in ‘heavy’ drinking, which equates to double the recommended daily limit. Current guidelines put the daily limits at three to four units for men and two to three for women.
The ONS claims 43% of professionals (7.5m adults) exceed the daily limits for drinking, with one in five consuming more than double the limit on their heaviest drinking day.
Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat spokesman on health said the statistics ‘lift the lid on the very serious hidden binge drinking epidemic among the middle classes that has gone unnoticed’.
Gavin Partington, the spokesperson for the Wine and Spirits Trade Association, attacked the figures.
‘In our current economic climate it’s not good for the government to be telling people to do away with the simple pleasure of drinking at home when there aren’t many pleasures left,’ he said.
He added that ‘questionable guidelines’ had been turned into limits that did not represent an accurate assessment of the danger. He said a sense of perspective had been lost.
‘Annual alcohol consumption has been going down since 2004, with 2008 seeing the biggest drop, so we are actually drinking far less than we used to,’ he said. ‘Lecturing ordinary people about enjoying wine at home won’t have any resonance, it will only make people skeptical’.
The Department of Health wants unit content to be published on the labels of all alcoholic drinks, including wine bottles, to help people keep track of their consumption. The drinks industry is currently being monitored for compliance.
Written by Lucy Shaw