Baby boomers drinking excessively with risk to health, warn experts
Baby boomers are risking their health due to excessive and regular drinking, health experts have warned.
New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England shows that people aged 45 to 64 and those over 65 are frequently drinking at more hazardous levels.
Married and cohabiting couples are also more likely to knock back alcohol on five or more days a week than single people, though they are slightly less likely to binge drink.
The data shows that, in 2016, 60% of women aged 45 to 64 had drunk alcohol in the last week - the highest proportion of any age group.
Some 69% of men had done the same - also the highest of any age group.
Furthermore, 13% of women aged 65 and over drink on five or more days a week - the highest percentage of any age group.
A quarter of men aged 65 and over of also drink on five or more days (also the highest of any age group of men).
Such regular drinking is over three time more likely among those aged 65 and over than people aged 16 to 24, the data showed.
Men and women aged 45 to 64 are also more likely to binge drink than other age group across the whole population (classed as four or more units in one session for men and three for women).
The report said people aged 55 to 64 were particularly likely to be drinking "at higher or increasing risk levels".
The study found that those in managerial or professional jobs are more likely to drink five days a week or more and drink more heavily in a single session than those in intermediate or manual jobs.
Dr Tony Rao, co-chairman of the older people's substance misuse working group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "These figures show that alcohol abuse is not a 'young person problem'.
"It's very concerning that while the rest of the population, including younger people, reduces its alcohol intake, baby boomers are drinking at a similar rate as before - and exceeding recommended guidelines.
"People expect to live longer, so they aren't slowing down just because they're in their 60s.
"Other recent statistics showed the number of 65 to 74-year-olds admitted to hospital for drug-related mental health problems like psychosis went up from 181 to 1,354 in just 10 years. That's an increase of 648%.
"Substance misuse in older age is not a problem that's going to go away.
"This is a wake-up call to everyone to take stock of their drinking behaviour to reduce the chance of developing serious alcohol-related mental health problems such as long-term memory damage."
Other data from NHS Digital showed that hospital admissions where alcohol was the main factor are at a record high.
There were 339,000 estimated admissions related to alcohol consumption in 2015/16 - 3% higher than 2014/15 and 22% higher than 2005/6.
This represents 2.1% of all hospital admissions, which has remained a stable proportion over the last decade.
Some 39% of patients were aged between 45 and 64 and six out of 10 were men.
Blackpool had the highest rate of admissions at 1,160 per 100,000 people. Kingston upon Thames the lowest rate at 390.
The report also found that alcohol has become 4% more affordable since 2006. Alcohol intake across the population rose 0.7% in 2015 to 9g of alcohol per person per day.
But the proportion of 11 to 15-year-olds who have ever had an alcoholic drink has been declining since 2003, the data showed.
Dave Roberts, director general of industry-funded Alcohol Information Partnership, said: "These UK figures from the ONS demonstrate that the majority of adults drink within low risk guidelines.
"We welcome the positive trends around binge drinking and harmful drinking which have declined by 17% and 23% respectively since 2005.
"The majority of people that choose to drink do so in a moderate and convivial manner."