chapter  2
10 Pages


Consumption of beer, wines, and spirits has risen sharply in the UK during the past thirty years. People’s drinking habits are a product of interacting personal and environmental influences. These include age, sex, occupation, income, marital status, as well as the cost and availability of alcoholic drinks. Mortality from cirrhosis of the liver is one of the most useful indicators of trends in alcohol-related disease and has risen and fallen in parallel with alcohol consumption. Incidence and mortality from a range of other diseases also varies with the per capita consumption levels of populations. The relationship between levels of individual consumption and the development of disease is more difficult to access

Patterns of Drinking

Britain is traditionally a beer drinking country. During 1983 the average annual consumption of alcoholic drinks per person aged fifteen years and over was 138 litres (243 pints) of beer, 12 litres of wine, 7 litres (1.5 gallons) of cider, and 5 litres of spirits.1 This did not take account of home brewed beverages, which included 204 million litres (360 million pints) of beer and 240,000 litres (9 million pints) of wine made from ‘kits’. Total consumption of pure alcohol was almost 9 litres per year and provided 6 per cent of average energy intake derived from food.2