According to new research, drinkers in England may be consuming the equivalent of 12 million more bottles of wine every week than previously thought / Getty

Researchers claim to have not included events such as weddings and holidays in the original research into alcohol consumption

Drinkers in England may be consuming the equivalent of 12 million more bottles of wine every week than previously thought, according to new research which asked people to record their “special occasion” drinking as well as their regular intake.

Surveys of average alcohol consumption usually only record information about typical drinking. However, data from these studies in England accounts for only 60 per cent of the alcohol sold in England, according to experts from John Moores University, Liverpool, and Bangor University.

Researchers now say they have found these “missing units” – and that they are consumed on special occasions such as holidays, weddings and bank holidays.

A random survey of more than 6,000 people, in which participants were questioned about their typical drinking patterns as well those outside usual circumstances, found that their alcohol consumption was significantly higher than would have been otherwise reported.

For 25 to 34-year-olds, this amounted to an additional 18 units of alcohol per week – the equivalent of six pints of beer – due to special occasion drinking.

Lead author on the study, Professor Mark Bellis said: “In England, there is a huge difference between what surveys report is consumed and how much alcohol is sold. Every week, the equivalent of over three quarters of a bottle of wine per drinker goes unaccounted for…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.”

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