The UK's biggest spirits producers and distributors have hit back at reports published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) Open, that claim that women are now drinking almost as much alcohol as men, calling for greater clarity.
The study, which looked at the drinking habits of 4m people globally over a 50-year period, found that over the past few decades the consumption habits of women has increased.
Historically, alcohol use and related harms are more prevalent in men than in women, it found. However, the difference between the genders has narrowed considerably over the last couple of decades, with young adults consuming almost equal amounts.
Men born in the early 1900s were twice as likely as their female peers to drink alcohol and more than three times as likely to be involved in problematic use or use leading to harm. Today, the odds across all three indicators are almost equal.
However, a spokesman for the AIP (Alcohol Information Partnership) said that the study needs to be viewed in the context of broader drinking patterns in the UK. Dave Roberts, the partnership's director general, said: 'Alcohol consumption in the UK is falling, since a peak in 2004 the HMRC reports a fall of 18%. Recent data shows that the proportion of women drinking regularly has fallen by 34% which is slightly faster than men, with younger women aged 16-24 reporting the most significant fall of 69%.
'While more needs to be done to tackle excessive alcohol consumption and to support those with harmful drinking habits, it must be remembered that the vast majority of men and women in the UK drink in moderation and that consumption levels are falling.'
The Alcohol Information Partnership is comprised of eight major drinks producers, including Diageo Great Britain, Pernod Ricard UK, Campari, Bacardi, Brown-Forman, Rémy-Cointreau, Moët Hennessy and Beam Suntory.