British drinkers are vastly underestimating how much we drink each year, new research claims.
We are “missing” around 12 million bottles of wine a week from our estimates, because surveys don't include the extra booze we down on holidays or at weddings and other celebrations.
That's three quarters of a bottle of wine for every drinker each week.
Sales figures show that we are drinking significantly more than we think we are – and there are important health implications.
Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University, on behalf of Alcohol Research UK, took a different approach in order to get people to more accurately estimate their drinking, and found that drinking habits are “more usually a matter of peaks and troughs”.
The biggest increase was seen in 25 to 35-year-olds, who had the highest level of typical consumption, drinking an extra 18 units a week than they normally estimate.
Dr James Nicholls of Alcohol Research UK said: “In the UK, if we estimate the amount we drink across the population by extrapolating from national surveys, the figure usually comes out at around 40 per cent less than the amount of alcohol that, according to sales data, we actually purchase.
“These ‘missing units’ are not easily explained away. Some are caused by storage and spillage, but the amount of alcohol tucked away in cellars or spilt on the carpet is only a drop in the ocean of drink that remains invisible using standard methods.”
Lead scientist Dr Mark Bellis, from Liverpool John Moores University, added: “Nationally we underestimate how much we drink and as individuals we can turn a blind eye to our heavier drinking periods when we calculate personal consumption.
"For many people though these sessions add substantial amounts of alcohol to their annual consumption and inevitably increase their risks of developing alcohol-related ill health."