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UK women, children drinking to excess

MORE British women are binge-drinking and while fewer children are drinking alcohol, those who do are guzzling more than in the past, according to the latest research.

However, perhaps surprisingly, young men are consuming less than they were, the study found.

"Much concern has been expressed in recent years about young people binge-drinking in particular," said Lesley Smith, lead author of the report by Oxford Brookes University.

"Many people will be surprised to learn that young men's drinking, including binge-drinking, has gone down in recent years, while middle age and older people's drinking has increased."

Britain has long had a problem with people consuming alcohol to excess, with binge-drinking blamed for rises in anti-social behavior and violence.

The government estimates that alcohol-related injuries and illnesses costs the health service around 2.7 billion pounds (US$4.07 billion) a year.

The report, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, examined previous evidence on drinking trends from the last 20 years to 30 years.

It found there was now heavier drinking among middle-aged and older groups, particularly those who were wealthier, while consumption among those in the 16-year-old to 24-year-old age group had declined.

However the number of women who binge-drink had almost doubled to 15 percent between 1998 and 2006, although women were still less likely to drink than men, and were also likely to consume less.

The government has been running a series of campaigns to warn about the dangers of excessive drinking, with figures showing 37 percent of adults regularly exceed the recommended daily maximum units of alcohol.

Medical experts have called for a minimum price for alcohol to eliminate the sale of cheap booze, but while ministers promise action on some discount promotions, they indicate they would not back a minimum price.

However, the government did raise tax on alcohol last month, adding about six pence to a pint of beer.


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