New study : What do Aussies drink?

A new study sheds light on what Australians drink, how much we consume and how often.

While beer remains the drink of choice for men and bottled wine for women and older drinkers, home brew and cask wine drinkers are drinking more than most.

The study by the Melbourne based Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) analysed data from the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which asked respondents to identify their favourite drink, the other types of alcohol consumed, and if they had changed their drinking preferences over a 12 month period.

It is one of five alcohol research projects to be showcased tonight at the launch of CAPR in Melbourne, where the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) will announce its continued commitment to CAPR with an additional $2.1 million in funding for the world-renowned research centre.

FARE Chairman Cheryl Bart says CAPR informs FARE’s work providing access to world’s best evidence based research.

“FARE is very proud to continue to support the work of internationally renowned Professor Robin Room and the team at CAPR. It is crucial that alcohol policies are being developed based on the evidence and that we ensure that limited government resources are being spent on what is proven to actually work,” Ms Bart said.

The study: What do Australians drink? was commissioned by FARE and highlights how drink preferences vary depending on age, gender, household income and neighbourhood affluence. Nearly one third of home brew and cask wine drinkers drink daily, compared to only 12.5 per cent of full-strength beer drinkers and 7.9 per cent of bottled wine drinkers. On average, home brew and cask wine drinkers consume 2.65 and 2.25 drinks per day, and as such are frequently drinking at a level higher than the recommended national alcohol guidelines which recommend no more than two standard drinks a day. RTDs are the preferred alcoholic drink of choice for (44.5%) of 14 to 19 year olds, followed by bottled spirits (21.7%) and regular beer (18.2%). This is in marked contrast to the oldest drinking group with people aged 70 and over preferring bottled wine (36.6%), followed by light beer (13.4%), spirits (13.3%) and cask wine (11.7%).

Report author, Dr Sarah Callinan says that understanding what people drink is important in developing policies that better target different population groups.

“This research highlights that it’s not enough to look at broad categories, such as beer, wine and spirits. When we drill down further we can see differences in demographics and drinking patterns that can better inform government alcohol policy aimed at reducing alcohol harms,” Dr Callinan said.

Other Key Findings

  • Women make up the majority of bottled wine (70%), premix (67.6%), cask wine (63.8%) and fortified wine drinkers (63.9%)
  • Men make up the majority of regular beer (83%), midstrength beer (82.8%), home brew beer (80.2%) and light beer drinkers (75.2%)
  • Men were more likely to select closer to three alcoholic drink types (2.6) as their preferred drinks, while women selected closer to two drink types (2.2).
  • Younger people are more like to have multiple preferred alcoholic drinks with 3.03 on average among 14 to 19 year olds, compared to 1.83 among people aged 70 years or older.
  • Beer and wine were more popular for those drinkers who consumed once or twice a week or more often, while bottled spirits, RTD and cider were more popular among those who consumed alcohol once a week or less often.
  • Nearly one third of home brew and cask wine drinkers consume alcohol daily, compared to around 14% of beer drinkers, 7.9% of bottled wine drinkers, 7.3% of spirits drinkers and less than 3% of RTD and cider drinkers.

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