Britain's biggest drinkers: Male, rich, educated and single

Guy Bentley
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Who are the country's biggest drinkers? (Source: Getty)

The holiday season is upon and for many of us this means customary gorging on rich food washed down by even richer alcohol.

How fortunate it is that at this time of annual indulgence the learned professors at University College London and Keele University have released the results of a decade-long study into the drinking habits of older citizens.

The study of the over-45s revealed which groups are more likely to take a more liberal attitude when it comes to booze, and those who for reasons of choice or circumstance take a more abstemious approach.

Well-off, educated single men are the biggest drinkers in later life. However, wealth and education across both genders coincided with drinking more alcohol more often. At the time the study began richer men drank 34 units a week.

Women with poor levels of health and education were the least likely group to drink a lot and frequently. The elderly suffering from health difficulties quit drinking the fastest of any group.

Divorced women slashed their drinking by a whopping 50 per cent. The research found that alcohol consumption men and women between 2000 and 2010 had fallen by five and seven units per week respectively.

Clare Holdsworth, professor of social geography at Keele, said:

Our findings also challenge the assumption that the end of a partnership is associated with alcohol misuse in later life, which has been found in other smaller-scale studies. In particular, our analysis of drinking behaviours demonstrates that change in partnership status for women is associated with a reduction in alcohol consumption. As a result, it is not necessarily appropriate to target alcohol services at this group of older people.

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