London, Jan 28 (ANI): Alcohol consumption may not be as popular in Britain as previously thought, according to new official figures, which revealed that one in six Brits has now sworn off alcohol.
The data, published by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday, said that although many people said they had never drunk beer or wine, often for religious reasons, increasing numbers said they were going dry for the good of their health.
In addition, alcohol consumption is falling along with the number of alcohol-related deaths, although experts believe this is could just be down to a drop in consumer spending during the recession, reports the Telegraph.
The data showed that drinking levels rose throughout the 1990s and reached a peak around the Millennium, but have fallen since then.
In 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, average weekly alcohol consumption was 11.9 units. Because of the increasing strength of drinks and the trend for larger measures, a large glass of wine now counts as three units, as does a pint of continental lager.
For the first time, the annual study included a section on abstinence, showing that 10 percent of people did not drink at all in 1998, but that figure had risen to 15 percent by 2009.
Abstinence was more common among women (18 percent) than men (12 percent) and highest among pensioners and the under-25s.
Almost half of teetotals said they used to drink but are now on the wagon - suggesting that they could be reformed binge-drinkers.
"Of those who reported never drinking alcohol, 57 percent said they had always been a non-drinker and 43 percent said they had given up drinking," said the report.
The ONS figures also showed there were 8,664 alcohol-related deaths in 2009, 367 fewer than in 2008. (ANI)