Musings of a phenomenologist

Science, psychiatry and random musings

Itz just a little drinkie

Posted by soveda on November 22, 2008

Browsing the BBC website today I came across this article, which states that drinkers lie about how much they drink.

Goodness me, I am surprised, only 2 out of 5 people lie about their drinking. I thought the rule of thumb was:

Double what the individual says they are drinking and halve what their relatives say.

Now I know I’m being picky and that this is actually just a way of getting press releases out into the press with the Know Your Limits campain and I don’t have (too much of) a problem with that. The data in the article is sketchy (as usual) but the numbers given are interesting:

“The Government poll of nearly 2000 people.”

How nearly?

“The majority of people who stick to this limit did not underplay their consumption, but 39% of the ‘high risk’ drinkers gave a lower figure”

Is it just me or is this a meaningless figure, 39% of what? 39% of 2% of the total? more? fewer? How many?

How did they define “high risk”? What does it all actually mean?

Besides you can have dependent drinking independantly of amount (OK it’s unusual but possible).

But the BBC aren’t once only offenders. How about this: Binge drinkers “risking dementia”. The link between alcohol and progressive cognitive impairment has been known for a long time and Dr Gupta has published a paper in the yellow journal (British Journal of Psychiatry) to highlight the possibly increasing risks because of increased alcohol consumption. All well and good but this: Dementia Risk for binge drinkers article from two months before has a strikingly similar title, and ooh look the same picture (and it’s picture of what looks like a woman drunk on the street).

The actual piece by Drs Gupta and Warner is an editorial musing on the possibility of a disproportionate in crease in alcohol related dementia given the increase in alcohol consumption.

From the figures I have found (1969-2003) the per capita alcohol (as 100% alcohol) has gone up from 5.1 litres to 9.4 litres. However the data is limited as it related to alcohol sales rather than consumption.

What I find interesting is the change in alcohol purchase patterns. In 1969 72.4% of alcohol bought was beer, this reduces to 44.5% in 2004, wine on the other hand goes from 10.1% to 27.7%. But as we see above the total volume of alcohol purchased has gone up.

What can we deduce from this? Sadly not a lot, is the change because of a change in the demographics of drinking? Possibly but if I start speculating I’ll be spoiling you…

The data might be out there, is someone actually looking?


7 Responses to “Itz just a little drinkie”

  1. dvnutrix said

    The data might be out there, is someone actually looking?

    If it is, it is not being reported adequately. For a topic that is an emotional or moral indignation hot-button that triggers remarkable jeremiads about the imminent moral, mental and physical collapse of the UK, there is remarkably little in the way of adequate information in the public domain.

  2. soveda said

    I’ve been trying to establish whether alcohol is actually stronger now than it was as anecdote would have us believe. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find any record of actual beer/wine/spirit strengths over time. The only thing I was able to discover was that Carling (at 3.8%) is the most sold lager in England and Wales. Make of that what you will.

  3. softestpawn said

    There’s quite a variation in wine strength, from 8-15%, and ‘apparently’ (I’ve lost the source) wines have been getting stronger since/as the new world ones hit the scene. The ‘7 units’ for a bottle of wine is fine when wine is 11%, but most these days are around 14%, though that might be changing

    Got some links from this on a pleasant evening in… though apparently dementia kicks in and you tend to forg

  4. […] of course, if you’re lying about it, you’ll need to drink twice as much) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Articles on Underaged […]

  5. soveda said

    The variation in wine strength may or may not be related to alcoholic beverages being taxed as wine between 9 and 15 %.
    Below that it’s taxed as beer and above as fortified wine.

  6. softestpawn said

    Ah I see.

    Erm, I’m rather taken aback that the automatic pingback thingy has left “Articles on Underaged […]” in your comments!

  7. soveda said

    if you find that reference on wine strength I would be interested to see it because I’ve been looking for any objective data that supports that comment but can’t find any.

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