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Health News

Affluent more likely to binge drink

High earners are more likely to binge drink than those on lower incomes, figures out today suggest.

They are also more likely to drink regularly - downing alcohol on five or more days of the week, according to data from the NHS Information Centre.

Some 29% of affluent men and 17% of women drink this frequently, compared to 17% of men and 11% of women on lower incomes.

Higher earners drink more heavily in one go - more than twice the daily recommended limit (men drink more than eight units in one session and women drink more than six) compared to those in poorer households.

They also are more likely to have drunk alcohol at all in the last week (86% of men and 72% of women) compared with 54% of men and 47% of women on lower incomes.

The Health Survey for England (HSE) 2009 showed that, overall, one in four men (25%) and more than one in seven women (15%) had drunk more than twice the recommended levels on at least one day in the last week.

There were also age differences among all incomes when it came to drinking on at least five days a week.

Just 11% of men and 4% of women aged 16 to 24 drink this frequently, rising to 33% of men aged 55 to 64 and 17% of women aged 55 to 74.

Chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, Tim Straughan, said: "The figures show the extent to which people from all backgrounds drink alcohol both frequently and in quantities that could be harmful to their health.

"They show that a greater percentage in the richest households drink frequently than those in the poorest and that drinking more than twice the recommended levels on at least one day in the previous week is common irrespective of financial status."