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Warning on home drinking peril

Thursday December 31st, 2009

People who drink spirits such as whisky at home routinely breach safe limits without realising the danger, campaigners warned today.

The average "measure" of spirits poured in a British home is more than twice what a barman in a pub would serve, according to a new study.

As the nation was preparing for its New Year's Eve drinking spree, public health officials warned that people who drink daily at home might be well over safe limits.

Campaigners blamed the growing size of glasses - as well as the low price of alcohol - for the problem.

The average home measure of spirits is some 57 ml - enough to ensure a daily drinker downs nearly a pint of spirits, or half a litre, a week.

Researchers found that home "bar staff" also had little idea how much the single measure served in a pub - 25 ml - really is. Adults under the age of 50 poured nearly twice as much, 41 ml, when asked to demonstrate one measure.

And home drinkers were equally generous to themselves with wine - women on average poured a single glass of 186 ml, equivalent to nearly 2.5 units of alcohol.

Women are advised to drink no more than three units a day and men no more than four.

The findings were part of a "Know Your Limits" campaign, launched by the UK department of health. Some 200 people took part in the research in three regions of England.

Public health minister Gillian Merron said: "It's easy to get carried away and it's worrying to see just how much more people might be unwittingly pouring for themselves and their friends at home on a regular basis.

"Over time, such over-generosity may backfire and harm your health. If you want to minimise your risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease and stroke, it's worth paying attention to the size of your measures."

The Royal College of Physicians, which has campaigned for tougher measures on alcohol drinking in Britain, welcomed the advice.

President Professor Ian Gilmore said: "It is worrying that people have little appreciation of how much they are drinking when serving themselves, especially given the rise in home drinking fuelled by cheap alcohol from supermarkets.

"Part of this lack of awareness comes from ever larger glass sizes and drinks such as wine and beer increasing in strength.

"This advice comes at a welcome time as recent data shows that three quarters of people intend to see in the New Year at home."

* An i-phone application to help drinkers measure their alcohol levels is available from

Tags: Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Heart Health | UK News

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