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Variation in the alcohol content of a ‘drink’ of wine and spirit poured by a sample of the Scottish population

By Jan Gill and Marie Donaghy


The standard UK alcohol unit is used to record alcohol consumption and, in health promotion, as a useful yardstick by which the public may be encouraged to monitor their own drinking levels. To investigate the correspondence between this standard unit and the actual amount contained in the ‘usual’ drink poured by a\ud sample of the Scottish public, participants (n=251) were recruited from three employers in a major city—a manufacturer, an academic and a financial institution. Following a brief questionnaire, participants were asked to pour their usual drink of wine, and then spirit, into a glass. Among drinkers (n=238), the mean amount of alcohol in a drink of wine corresponded to not 1, but 1.92 UK units. For spirit, the corresponding figure was 2.3 UK units. For wine, 43% of the sample poured more than 2 units, for spirit, 55%. (Males poured significantly more spirit than females.) These findings may have important\ud implications for individuals who wish to promote and to adopt sensible drinking practices when consuming wine and spirit at home. Also, the reliability of many consumption surveys, where there is often the implicit assumption that a ‘drink’ is equivalent to a ‘standard unit’, must be questioned

Topics: GT
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2004
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