OK, so people do, umm, “misremember” how much they drink. And if we look at the total amount that is sold we find out that some people, somewhere, are drinking more than the surveys say people drink.
Nationwide surveys that purport to show the ‘average’ man and women drink much less than the recommended weekly limit are seriously flawed, according to public health experts at University College London.
In these surveys, people only admit to drinking about 60 per cent of the amount that actually gets bought, said the researchers.
Unless vast amounts are getting spilled or poured down plugholes, the discrepancy suggests people are being economical with the truth when it comes to their drinking habits.
The implication is that far more people are binge drinking than current estimates predict – particularly affluent women.
In addition, the research suggests the ‘average’ drinker is actually knocking back at least the weekly limit, week-in week-out, and probably more.
OK, take out the emotional language there and we’re all agreed. Total alcohol consumption by one measure is higher than alcohol consumption by another. It’s the implications of this that are important:
Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the study estimated 44 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women were exceeding weekly alcohol consumption guidelines.
“This contradicts the claims of the alcohol industry that only a small minority drink too much, and is yet more evidence of the need for strong government action, including a minimum unit price for alcohol,” he said.
“The UK’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol is putting more and more strain on our hospitals as we struggle to cope with the rising tide of harm caused to health by alcohol misuse.”
No you blithering idiot, it works the other way around. For we also have the actual figures for how much damage is done by alcohol consumption, we have the NHS records. If we compare that total damage done to what people say they drink then we get one level of sensitivity, of consumption to damage. However, if we compare that higher total amount sold to that same amount of damage done then we get a different sensitivity. And that sensitivity is lower. We are getting the same amount of damage from a greater amount of alcohol consumption. Therefore alcohol is less dangerous than we thought it was before.
The policy implications of that being that we need to worry less about how much people drink. The case for minimum pricing is weakened.
Just in case there are any public health fools who read this blog (unlikely, I know) try this.
We know the numbers of exploding livers, that’s from the NHS stats. We have two estimations of how much booze is drunk. What people say and the higher, what is actually sold (and if we’re honest, there’s a thid, even higher number, adding in that which is bought and shipped in from the EU, either legally or illegally).
So, just to give some pretend numbers. Under the first reported drinking volumes, 0.6 of consumption leads to 1.0 exploded liver (or fractions of, units, whatever). Under the second, looking at legal sales, 1.0 of consumption leads to 1.0 of exploding livers. (And presumably, adding in EU sales, 1.3 or something of consumption leads to 1.0 of liver kablooie).
That is what has been found from the above revelations.
And the implication of this is that alcohol consumption is less dangerous in terms of liver fricassee than was previously thought. Thus the case for limiting alcohol consumption is weaker than it was.
Blimey, don’t they teach logic in medical schools?