London has the UK's lowest percentage of drinkers, ONS study shows

Francesca Washtell
Follow Francesca
Italian Youths Shop, Socialize And Party
Source: Getty

Vindication for Londonders feeling patronised by yesterday' condescending government health quiz: instead of downing pints, people in the capital have been putting their pints down, after new research showed London has the lowest levels of drinking in the UK.

British adults across the country are drinking six per cent less than they were in 2005, according to a new study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released today.

However, the same study also showed almost one in five high earners drinks alcohol on at least five days a week.

This means those with an annual income of at least £40,000 were twice as likely (18 per cent) to drink frequently during the week compared to low earners with an annual income of less than £10,000 (eight per cent).

The highest percentages who had drunk alcohol in the previous week were in the South East (62 per cent) and the South West (62 per cent).

Perhaps surprisingly, London had the lowest percentage, at 51 per cent, followed by Wales (53 per cent). However, Wales also had the highest percentage of people who had drunk more than the new weekly guideline in a single day (14 per cent), followed by Scotland (13 per cent).

Men were also more likely to have drunk alcohol than women, with 64 per cent of men but only 53 per cent of women having drunk alcohol at least once.

Around 28.9m people in Britain, approximately 58 per cent of the adult population, drank at least some alcohol in the week before being interviewed, according to the 2014 ONS study.

Some 45 per cent of those who had drunk in the previous week had consumed more than 4.67 units - a third of the new weekly guideline - on their heaviest drinking day.

The latest government guidance, published on 8 January, is that both men and women should avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week (that's about a pint a day), spread over at least three days.

The ONS survey showed 9 per cent of drinkers, 2.5 million people, had drunk more than 14 units on a single day in 2014, proving Britain's binge drinking culture has survived despite the overall drop in alcohol consumption.

Britain's yoof continues to live up to its increasingly teetotal reputation, as the ONS research showed young people were less likely to have drunk alcohol in the previous week than older groups, with less than half of 16 to 24-year-olds reporting doing so, compared with 66 per cent of 45 to 64-year-olds.

"It's clear from these figures that although there are now more people, especially younger ones, who don't drink alcohol at all, there is still a significant group of other people who are drinking well in excess of the latest health advice," ONS statistician Jamie Jenkins said.

Related articles