Ireland: Aviva Health research shows alcohol still consumed excessively among Irish adults

As part of Alcohol Awareness Month, new research from Aviva Health Insurance has revealed that Irish people are spending nearly €2,000 per year on alcohol; with men spending significantly more than women, at €2,395 and €1,607 respectively.

As part of Alcohol Awareness Month, new research from Aviva Health Insurance has revealed that Irish people are spending nearly €2,000 per year on alcohol*; with men spending significantly more than women, at €2,395 and €1,607 respectively. The research 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. While this is below the recommended weekly limit of 21 units for men and 14 units for women1, it raises concerns given that this limit identifies when damage is caused to one’s health by alcohol.

Regionally, the research shows counties Dublin and Louth drink the most alcohol, consuming an average of 12 units per week, while counties Carlow, Donegal, Kerry, Laois, Roscommon and Tipperary reported the lowest level of drinking, at nine units per week. Given an average pint of beer contains two units of alcohol2, people living in Dublin and Louth are consuming approximately six pints of beer or cider or 12 glasses of wine per week. This is twice the recommended level of one glass of red wine per day that has been found to have modest health benefits.  

The statistics for this research were collected via the Aviva Online Health Check which was completed by 20,043 people between December 2008 and April 2011 and involved respondents answering a series of questions on their health and lifestyle habits.    

Speaking following the results of the Online Health Check, Dr Stephen Murphy of the Aviva Medical Council said: “People living in Ireland who are in work have a tendency towards a work hard, play hard lifestyle. 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.”3

Earlier in the year, Aviva released smoking statistics which showed that women in Ireland are smoking double the amount of cigarettes to men – highlighting the trend that women are still smoking more. Therefore it is of grave concern that this latest piece of research shows men are consuming almost double the amount of alcohol as their female counterparts.

In addition, Ireland has previously been ranked as having the highest rate of binge drinking in the EU, with 36% of respondents to a 2007 report4 on attitudes towards drinking claiming that they consume an average of three to four drinks on one occasion, which equates to approximately six to eight units of alcohol.

“If you drink alcohol, be sure to do so in moderation as consuming too much can result in serious health consequences and could increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  I would urge everyone to complete the online health check available at www.avivahealth.ie to be aware of their health habits in an effort to bring about positive changes that can prolong and improve the quality of their life,” Dr Murphy added.

To complete Aviva’s Online Health Check, please visit www.avivahealth.ie.

Aviva Health, Online Health Checker 2008-2011
These statistics where collected via an Online Health Check available at www.avivahealth.ie. The information is "self reported" by 20,043 people who completed the online health check from January 2008 to April 2011.

County

Average number of alcohol units consumed per annum

Average alcohol spend per annum €

Carlow

9

1,683

Cavan

11

1,910

Clare

10

1,876

Cork

11

1,955

Donegal

9

1,730

Dublin

12

2,113

Galway

10

1,687

Kerry

9

1,765

Kildare

11

1,869

Kilkenny

11

1,804

Laois

9

1,612

Leitrim

11

1,833

Limerick

11

1,951

Longford

10

1,884

Louth

12

2,136

Mayo

10

1,859

Meath

10

1,676

Monaghan

11

1,942

Offaly

10

1,737

Roscommon

9

1,608

Sligo

10

1,807

Tipperary

9

1,600

Waterford

11

1,820

Westmeath

10

1,683

Wexford

11

1,907

Wicklow

10

1,708

-ends-

For further information or interviews, please contact:

Andrew Smyth, Fleishman Hillard on 01 618 8459 or 086 122 1551
Iris Cribbin, Fleishman Hillard on 01 618 8439 or 087 414 2881 

About Aviva Health Insurance Ireland Limited
Aviva Health Insurance Ireland Limited is Ireland’s fastest growing private health insurer. Aviva Health insurance is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

*Annual average spend is €1,813.65

1 HSE Health Promotion Unit: www.yourdrinking.ie/about-alcohol/what-is-a-standard-drink/

2 Reach Out website: http://ie.reachout.com/find/articles/binge-drinking

3 The World Health Organisation: www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en/

4 Attitudes towards Alcohol: European Commission  http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_272b_en.pdf PDF (1.61MB)