Great Britain

More than 250,000 Britons are drinking before midday during lockdown, survey suggests

Most Britons are drinking more during the coronavirus lockdown, with an estimated 250,000 having their first tipple before midday, according to two studies into rising alcohol consumption since the restrictions began.

On average, drinkers have increased their alcohol consumption by 12.6 units per week in the daytime and a further 14.6 units in the evenings.

Twelve units of alcohol is equivalent to about four large glasses of red wine or six pints of lower-strength beer.

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The research, conducted by Opinium for Direct Line Life Insurance, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults between 21 to 23 April.

It came as an interim report for the Global Drug Survey found more than 50% of British drinkers reported an increase in the number of days consuming alcohol each week during the Covid-19 crisis, with a third reporting an increase in binge drinking.

The Opinium research found that millions of Britons appear to be leading less healthy lifestyles.

Over 10.4 million Brits (20 per cent) claim to have increased the amount of unhealthy food they are eating each week compared to their pre-lockdown diets.

With restaurants and cafes closed, 4.1 million people (eight per cent) also admit to ordering more takeaways, further increasing the amount of unhealthy food they are consuming.

Daily walks are the most common form of exercise that people across the UK have started to incorporate into their routine with 10 million (19 per cent) pounding the pavement.

For those seeking to keep active during lockdown, daily walks were the most common form of exercise, according to the survey.

Chloe Couper, business manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “Lockdown has been extremely challenging for many people. With most facing radical changes to their work and home life.

“Although it can be easy to go to the kitchen and grab an unhealthy snack or pour an alcoholic drink, it is important to remember the importance of a balanced lifestyle.

Concerns have been growing in recent weeks over the impact the Covid-19 lockdown is having on people’s health.

Experts warned earlier this month that failure to tackle problem drinking during the pandemic could result in increased harm for a generation.

Writing in the BMJ, Proffesor Sir Ian Gilmore, who chairs Alcohol Health Alliance UK, and Ilora Finlay, chair of the House of Lords Commission on Alcohol Harms, called on the government to take urgent action to avoid a second health crisis.

“It is increasingly clear that if we don’t prepare for emerging from the pandemic, we will see the toll of increased alcohol harm for a generation,” the pair wrote in an editorial.

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