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News: Brits are Europes biggest binge drinkers

The British are Europe’s biggest binge drinkers, consuming more alcohol each time they go out than any other western European country, according to a new report.

The report from Datamonitor reveals that the average British drinker knocks back the equivalent of 2.2 pints of lager on each visit to the pub, compared with just 1.1 pints in abstemious Sweden.

The heavy session is on its way out

However, people are cutting down on their consumption of alcoholic drinks out of the home: total European on-trade alcohol consumption volumes fell by 0.5% a year between 2000 and 2005, with an especially steep decline in the UK and Germany, said the independent market analyst.

Between 2000 and 2005, the total number of on-trade alcoholic drinks occasions (occasions on which adults went out to consume alcoholic drinks in a pub, bar, café, restaurant or hotel) rose slightly to 26.2 billion in Europe, or 1.3 times per adult per week.

The UK saw 3.9 billion going-out occasions, which is also 1.3 times a week per adult. Spanish consumers went out the most often at 2.2 times a week, while the average Swede went out drinking less than once a fortnight (0.4 times per week). The number of occasions fell slightly in the UK and Germany and rose everywhere else.

The amount that people consume each time they go out drinking is falling. In Europe overall it fell from 54ml of pure alcohol (equivalent to five UK units, or 1.9 pints of lager) in 2000 to 51ml in 2005.

In the UK, consumers consumed 63ml of alcohol on a typical occasion (6.3 units, or 2.2 pints of lager). This is down from 68ml in 2000, but is still by far the highest rate in Europe. The next highest rate is seen in Germany, where the average occasion involves the consumption of 55ml of pure alcohol. The abstemious Swedes are not only the least likely to go out drinking but also have the lowest consumption per occasion, at 31ml of pure alcohol (3.1 units, or just 1.1 pints of lager).

People are drinking less alcohol each time they go out, and spending more and more on soft drinks in pubs and bars. "Going out is becoming less and less about drinking, and alcohol consumption is becoming something that people do at home," says John Band, Datamonitor analyst and author of the report. "It’s clear that the culture of binge drinking is on its way out, with British consumption per occasion falling closer in line with the levels seen on the Continent."

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