Introduction Alcohol consumption and alcoholic liver disease are rising steeply in the UK. Because this is seen as a major health hazard by the British Society of Gastroenterology, and society at large, we conducted a survey of knowledge and attitudes in an age, sex and regionally balanced sample) of the UK population.
Methods A 10-question 80-response survey of knowledge of and attitudes to alcohol and obesity across the UK conducted through the polling organisation, YouGov yielded 1956 complete responses.
Results Twenty two per cent of respondents did not drink alcohol and 23% always stayed within recommended limits compared to 52% who exceeded them (21% doing so often and/or by great amount). Among those exceeding the limits 39% objected to health advice and 33% regarded their drinking as moderate. Binge drinking with friends was reported by 17% (36% of 18/24 years, with 11% drinking to help confidence with opposite sex). Drinking to calm nerves was cited as a reason by 15% and depression by 8%. 13% thought limits were too low and 15% that their body could handle excess alcohol. Only one third would seek help from their GP vs 20% for counselling (30% in London) and 21% for Alcoholics Anonymous. Twenty three per cent blamed social isolation for alcohol excess in UK and 49% thought consumption would continue to rise in UK for 10 years. Banning advertising aimed at young people was supported by 62%, with 23% supporting minimum unit pricing.
Conclusion This large, balanced study shows that alcoholism is prevalent across the UK and people are resistant to receiving health advice about it. New approaches to communication are needed. However, a majority would support restrictions on advertising.
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