UWE alcohol research presented in Parliament

Issue date: 27 October 2009

University of the West of England A review conducted by researchers at the University of the West of England, looked at levels of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales and compared these with the UK as a whole. The results were presented at a reception in Parliament on Monday 19 October 2009.

The report, entitled, 'Per Capita Alcohol Consumption, Mortality, Morbidity and Drunk Driving:Implications for Saving Lives' was produced for the national charity, Alcohol Concern.

The authors of the report, Drs Nikki Coghill, Patrick Miller and Professor Martin Plant of the Alcohol and Health Research Unit at UWE concluded that an increase of one litre in the UK's per capita alcohol consumption (100% alcohol) was associated with approximately 928 extra deaths in the UK per annum.

As well as levels of per capita alcohol consumption and alcohol-related deaths, limited information about alcohol-related morbidity was also considered in the report, along with statistics on drink driving and drunkenness convictions in England.

The analysis showed that the number of alcohol-related deaths throughout the UK was significantly associated with trends in UK per capita alcohol consumption. Accordingly, autoregressive analyses were carried out with no lag, a one year lag and a two year lag in the relationships. The one-year lag was prominent for England but not for the other countries of the UK. In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales the highest levels of association between consumption changes and mortality were evident immediately. Heavy alcohol consumption appears to be associated with mortality not only in the current year but also in the two succeeding years. However, in England this effect may be delayed.

Dr Nikki Coghill concludes, “It is strongly recommended that reducing mortality should be the top priority for alcohol control policy. This is achievable, but requires a reduction in per capita alcohol consumption. This can be done by introducing a minimum unit price of 50p. This would also cut alcohol-related hospital admissions, crimes and days absent from work. Additionally, it would save at least £1 billion per year in the costs to taxpayers of alcohol-related harm in England alone.”

This report was commissioned by Alcohol Concern. It was funded by the Alcohol Education & Research Council and Comic Relief.


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