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Survey suggests we’re drinking more than we were 10 years ago

A paper in the Medical Journal of Australia that analysed recent National Health Survey figures has found Australians seem to be drinking more than we did when the Survey was first conducted back in 2001.

The National Health Survey is conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and is widely considered reputable and thorough, which is why the findings come as something of a surprise: some findings contradict the findings from last year’s National Drugs Strategy Household Survey.

Two reasons cited by the authors for the difference in results between last year’s survey and this ABS one include:

  1. Different reference period for surveys. The ABS survey asked about consumption “one week before”; the National Drugs Strategy Household Survey asked about consumption “one year before” the survey
  2. Different response rates. The response rate for the Drugs Strategy survey was about half of that for the ABS survey.

Some of the most interesting findings from this year’s survey include:

  • On average, adults drank 3.9 standard drinks over the three days prior to the survey in 2001, but 4.3 standard drinks during the 2011-2012 survey
  • Over the same period, consumption among men increased from 4.7 to 5 standard drinks, and among women from 2.8 to 3.4 standard drinks
  • Although women are still drinking less than men, the gap between them is narrowing: women consumed 40% less in 2001, but only 33% less in 2011-2012
  • The average alcohol consumption for each age group under 55 had increased from 2001 to the 2011-2012 survey
  • Among those aged 18 years or older, 29.2% of men and 10.1% of women exceeded risky drinking guidelines. The corresponding figures for those aged 15-19 years were 35.0% for men and 19.8% for women.

Read the paper.