Typology and Dynamics of Heavier Drinking Styles in Great Britain: 1978–2010



Purshouse R, Brennan A, Moyo D, Nicholls J & Norman P (2017) Typology and Dynamics of Heavier Drinking Styles in Great Britain: 1978–2010. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 52 (3), pp. 372-381.

Aims To identify a typology of heavier drinking styles in Great Britain and to identify socio-demographic trends in the typology over the period 1978–2010. Methods We applied multiple correspondence analysis and agglomerative hierarchical clustering to beverage-specific quantity–frequency measures of alcohol consumption in the repeated cross-sectional General Lifestyle Survey of Great Britain, 1978–2010. The cluster analysis focuses on the 60,043 adult respondents over this period reporting average drinking levels above the UK Government guidelines. We projected sex, age, income, education, socio-economic status and tobacco consumption variables onto the clusters to inspect socio-demographic trends in heavier drinking. Results We identified four stable clusters of heavier drinking: (a) high volume beer; (b) beer and spirit combination; (c) all beverage and (d) wine and spirit only. The socio-demographic characteristics of the clusters were distinct from both each other and the general population. However, all clusters had higher median incomes and higher smoking rates than the population. Increases in the prevalence of heavier drinking were driven by a 5-fold increase in the contribution of the female-dominated, wine and spirit only cluster. Conclusions Recent changes in per capita alcohol consumption in Great Britain occurred within the context of a stable typology of heavier drinking styles and shifting socio-demographics. Identifying these trends is essential to better understand how drinking cultures develop over time and where potentially problematic drinking styles may emerge. Our findings suggest that careful attention to patterns and cultures of consumption is more important than relying on headline consumption data, for both understanding drinking behaviours and targeting interventions.

smoking; adult; alcohol drinking; beer; beverages; demography; drinking behavior; government; income; life style; socioeconomic factors; wine; guidelines; tobacco use

Alcohol and Alcoholism: Volume 52, Issue 3

FundersAlcohol Research UK
Publication date31/05/2017
Publication date online24/01/2017
Date accepted by journal05/01/2017

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Dr James Nicholls
Dr James Nicholls

Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Health Sciences Stirling