WEST Berkshire residents are more likely to be frequent drinkers than people living in other areas of the UK, according to a new survey.
A Public Health England study found that 22 per cent of the district’s drinkers consumed alcohol on four or more occasions per week, while 14 per cent of drinkers could be labelled as binge drinkers.
Of the 25 local authority areas surveyed, West Berkshire had the highest rate of frequent drinkers, while Peterborough had the lowest rate at just nine per cent.
The survey asked residents in 25 local authority areas a number of questions on their drinking habits in order to gain a better understanding of levels and patterns of alcohol consumption in sub populations across the country.
Almost 380 West Berkshire residents took part.
The figures worryingly showed that more than 23 per cent of drinkers in West Berkshire were considered ‘at risk’ using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, which is used to indicate hazardous or harmful alcohol use.
Rotherham had the lowest number of drinkers at risk, at 16 per cent, while Middlesbrough had the highest at 32 per cent.
And while, statistically people from West Berkshire are significantly less likely than the national and regional average to be admitted to hospital for conditions specific to or attributable to alcohol, chief officer at Healthwatch West Berkshire Andrew Sharp said more must be done to raise awareness over the dangers of excessive drinking.
As well as the more obvious alcohol abuse, Mr Sharp said those choosing to regularly drink at home should also be made aware of the risks.
He said: “If you compare the frequency rates to some of the other areas you wouldn’t necessarily expect West Berkshire to be the worst.
“There’s been a lot of work done locally to address alcohol abuse, working with pubs and bars and nightclubs.
“But the two things we can’t control are what the supermarkets get up to and drinking at home.
He added: “It’s now considered the norm to have wine with meals.
“When I was growing up people didn’t get through five bottles of wine in a week.
“It’s not about preaching, but you have to get across the facts and the science and occasionally shock people.”