Irish Examiner – Survey reveals Irish fork out €2,000 a year on alcohol

Irish people are spending on average almost €2,000 a year on alcohol with Dublin and Louth the counties with highest weekly intake, new figures show.

The research, issued by Aviva Health Insurance to mark Alcohol Awareness Month, showed men spend significantly more than women, at €2,395 and €1,607 respectively. It also revealed that people are drinking excessively, with men consuming an average of 15 alcohol units per week and women consuming an average of nine.

Experts have expressed concerns at the figures, particularly as similar research published earlier this year showed women were smoking almost double the number of cigarettes as men.

With that trend reversed regarding alcohol consumption it could raise issues over the state of public health.

The data was compiled through the Aviva Online Health Check, taking data from 20,043 people between December 2008 and April 2011.

It has been suggested that one glass of red wine a day can have health benefits, while the recommended weekly alcohol consumption limit is 21 units for men and 14 for women.

The research found that the average number of alcohol units consumed per week in Co Louth is 12, where the average yearly spend is €2,136;

Next highest annual spend is in Dublin, with €2,113, and again with an average of 12 units consumed per week.

Nine counties have an average weekly consumption of 11 units per week, including Cork, Kildare, Limerick and Waterford;

Another nine counties have an average weekly consumption of 10 units, while six counties have an average weekly consumption of 9 units;

Tipperary has the lowest annual average spend on alcohol, at €1,600.

The information was gathered through “self-reporting”, and Dr Stephen Murphy of the Aviva Medical Council said this meant the figures could be an under-estimate.

“People living in Ireland who are in work have a tendency towards a work hard, play hard lifestyle,” he said. “Often drinking is used as a way to unwind after a busy week or to forget about the troubles of the day.

“Our research shows people are spending nearly €2,000 on alcohol annually, and also suggests that alcohol is being consumed excessively among adults.

“This is worrying behaviour, particularly as people tend to under-report their alcohol consumption and may be unaware that drinking has been linked to breast, liver and oral cancers.”

Source: Irish Examiner – 27.04.11
Journalist: Noel Baker