January 22, 2009 / 2:16 PM / 10 years ago

One third of Britons drink too much

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - More than a third of British adults regularly exceed the government’s recommended alcohol limits, official figures showed on Thursday.

A glass of beer is handed between pumps at the Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court in London, August 1, 2006. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Government advice is for men to regularly drink no more than three or four units of alcohol a day, with a limit of two to three units for women.

But despite increased awareness amongst the public of the risks, 37 percent of adults exceeded these benchmarks on at least one day in the week and 20 percent drank more than double on their heaviest drinking day.

The Office for National Statistics figures, based on a 2007 survey, found more men than women exceeded the limit.

It also showed that people living in “managerial or professional” households were likely to drink more than those in “routine and manual” households.

A separate survey carried out last year found that 86 percent of adults had at least heard about measuring alcohol consumption in units, up from 75 percent a decade ago.

However only 38 percent knew the correct daily limit for men and 44 percent the maximum for women.

Britain has long had a problem with people drinking to excess, leading to issues of anti-social behavior and violence while alcohol-related injuries and illnesses cost the state health system around 2.7 billion pounds ($3.72 billion) a year.

The Conservative opposition blamed Prime Minister Gordon Brown of failing to deal with the problem.

“These worrying figures show just how widespread binge drinking is becoming,” said Conservative health spokesman Andrew Lansley.

“Labor have shown extraordinary complacency in failing to make it a priority to help people live healthy lives and the toll this is taking is now becoming all too clear.”

The Department of Health said more people were becoming aware of safe drinking levels following a campaign launched last year.

Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Paul Casciato

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