Third of Britons '˜limited or reduced' alcohol intake last year

A third of Britons have cut or limited their alcohol intake over the last year, a survey has found.

More than half of beer, wine and cider drinkers (51%) say they are drinking less alcohol than a few years ago, while 32% of Britons overall have reduced or limited their intake, analysts Mintel found.

The poll revealed that the shift is more due to economic rather than health factors, with 44% of those who have cut back doing so to save money and 41% wanting to lose weight.

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But 39% are drinking less to improve their health and 30% have cut back to reduce the risk of disease.

Some 14% cut back because they are worried about becoming dependent on alcohol and the same proportion have reduced their drinking to stay within NHS and government guidelines.

Younger Britons are most likely to have cut back, at 35% of 25 to 43-year-olds and 36% of 35 to 44-year-olds (36%).

Britons living in the North East are most likely to be drinking less, at 41%, compared with 27% in the South East.

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One fifth of adults (19%) say they do not drink alcohol at all, with women slightly outnumbering men at 22% compared with 17%.

Mintel senior food and drink analyst Richard Caines said: “As many as a third of all Britons have limited or reduced their alcohol consumption at some point in the last year.

“While this includes consumers cutting back for shorter and longer periods of time, it is a strong indicator that steps to moderate alcohol consumption are now widespread.”

But the poll also found that weekly alcohol limits remain a mystery for 42% of Britons, who say they do not know the NHS and government guidelines on recommended consumption.

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Just 10% of adults correctly stated that guidelines recommended no more than 14 units a week for men and women and 42% said they did not know.

Mr Caines said: “While consumers are aware of the health dangers from drinking too much alcohol, few are clear on the limits advised in the new guidelines to keep health risks low.

“Low-alcohol drinks brands could benefit from driving awareness of these limits and what the number of units in individual drinks means in terms of their contribution to that weekly guidance.”

* Mintel surveyed 1,944 British adults online in November.