Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

The changing pattern of alcohol consumption in England and Wales 1978-85.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 03 October 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:807
  1. G C Dunbar,
  2. D D Morgan
  1. Wyeth Research (UK), Taplow, Berkshire.


    An alcohol consumption survey of 926 people aged 18 or over in England and Wales was conducted by Gallup in 1985. The results were compared with those obtained in a similar survey conducted by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys in 1978. Overall alcohol consumption remained virtually unchanged. Men showed little difference in drinking habits, except for the 18-24 age group, who seemed to be drinking less. For women mean alcohol consumption in 1985 was similar to that in 1978, but more women were not drinking at all so the mean alcohol consumption per drinker had risen. As with earlier work, this study showed that social class had little influence on alcohol consumption, while being married seemed to have a moderating effect. A variable regional pattern of alcohol intake was found. In a separate analysis under-age drinking was common among 16-17 year olds (65%). Their pattern of drinking was similar to that of other age groups, except for those over 65 years, who drank less. Change in alcohol intake in the UK over the seven years was in the middle of the range of values for other European countries. The stable UK overall consumption was perhaps due to the constant relative price of alcohol.