The study — Health Survey for England 2015 (HSE) — showed that 31% of men and 16% of women consumed more than 14 units in a week, exposing them to “alcohol-related harm”.
The current guidelines indicated that men and women should not drink more than 14 units a week.
Meanwhile, 55% of men and 64% of women consumed alcohol in moderation, exposing them to a low risk of “alcohol-related harm”.
In 2015 men drank a mean of 14.9 units, while women drank a mean of 8.9 units in a usual week.
Underage drinking falls
The HSE also revealed that underage drinking has been decreasing — with only 16% of children aged eight to 15 having experience of drinking alcohol.
The report claims this is the lowest level ever recorded, with numbers falling steadily from 45% since 2003.
Only 1% of boys and girls aged eight to 15 said they drank at least once a week or more.
Industry members all welcomed the outcome of the report, particularly with the current policies in place to reduce underage drinking.
Portman Group chief executive Henry Ashworth said: “It is welcome that underage drinking continues to decline and is now at its lowest recorded level.
“This indicates that the combination of robust ID schemes, life skills education and programmes to tackle underage drinking are having a real impact.”
Ashworth said the report showed “positive trends” after a long campaign to reduce harmful drinking.
He added: “These figures show that the majority of people consume alcohol safely and sensibly, and that more of us are drinking within low-risk guidelines.”
‘This work must continue’
British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Many of the figures show a decline in the misuse of alcohol and it is very good to see so many indicators moving in the right direction.
“Education, awareness and targeting help at the right groups and individuals are certainly the most effective ways to reduce alcohol-related harm. This is quite a long-term trend that also shows that working in partnership with others delivers good results.
“It is work that extends from national campaigns right down to the grassroots, with local pubs working with industry-led schemes such as Best Bar None and Pubwatch to encourage responsible drinking. This is work that must continue.”
‘More work to be done’
Alcohol Information Partnership general director Dave Roberts claimed reduced underage and moderate drinking by adults was being tackled “effectively” by local partnerships.
However, he stressed: “There are still some areas of England and particular groups in society where more work needs to be done to reduce alcohol misuse.
“Partnerships between industry, licensees, the public services and retailers are the best way to achieve the desired reduction in alcohol misuse.”