A new study has found that harmful drinking is widely affecting successful members of the middle-class. These are well educated people who typically eat healthy, go to the gym, stay away from cigarettes, have an active social life, don’t neglect depression and other mental health issues, and generally take care of themselves.
Why excessive drinking is a problem among this group remains unknown for the time being, but field experts warn that such a behavior can easily lead to a number of health problems.
Field experts are calling it a “middle-class phenomenon”, with Professor Jose Iparraguirre, lead researcher and chief economist over at Age UK, giving a statement saying that “Our analysis challenges popular perceptions of who is drinking too much”.
He went on to theorize that public health messages may not be reaching the groups who are in the most danger of developing the habit, the high income groups. He also added that because the people in these groups typically look after their health, especially when compared to other groups in the older population, they may not even realize that what they’re doing “is putting their health in danger”.
For their study, Professor Iparraguirre and his team looked at data provided by 9.000 subjects who participated in the English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing (ELSA).
They were all in their 50s and had to answer question relating to their income levels, employment, education levels, physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, mental health issues ( such as depression or loneliness), any religious believes they might have, and social engagement (the number of friends that they had, how often they took part in community events or cultural activities).
The researchers informed that men who practice harmful drinking consume somewhere between 22 and 50 units on a weekly basis, whereas women who practice harmful drinking consume somewhere between 15 and 35 units on a weekly basis. A smaller glass of beer or wine is the equivalent or two (2) or three (3) units.
Alcohol consumption that goes above 50 units for men and 35 units for women is considered “higher risk drinking”, a segment of particular interest to the researchers. What this translates to is roughly between 17 and 25 glasses per week for men, and roughly between 12 and 17 glasses per week for women.
The results showed that men were most in danger of higher risk drinking during their early 60s (and started pacing themselves in later decades), while women were most in danger of higher risk drinking during their 50s (and started pacing themselves in later decades).
High risk drinkers turned out to be individuals who were well educated, had a high income and generally kept themselves healthy and socially active.
An interesting finding was that while depression and loneliness were not linked to harmful drinking, men who lived by themselves were more likely to be high risk drinkers.
For women, the danger arose when they split a bottle of wine evenly with their partners as women have a lower alcohol tolerance than men. But curiously enough, online shopping has also been found to be a factor that encourages older women to drink more.
The Office for National Statistics also informs that middle age individuals are three (3) times more likely than younger people to drink on a daily basis.
The study was published in the e British Medical Journal Open.