One in four people are getting through more booze now the UK is once again in lockdown – and young middle-class women are the most likely to turn to alcohol to cope, a study claims.

Alcohol consumption has increased since the government imposed stay-at-home measures last March. Research carried out by University College London (UCL) academics found the group that had increased its drinking the most was educated younger women.

According to the study: “Younger women with post-16 educational qualifications and a household income over £30,000 were more likely to report increased alcohol consumption.”

It is believed they may be turning to alcohol as a way to cope with the stress and anxiety of restrictions imposed to control the spread of Covid-19, as well as the additional workload of looking after and educating children while schools are closed. Financial difficulties, boredom, loneliness and worry about catching coronavirus were also cited as reasons people might be drinking more than usual.

The survey quizzed 30,000 people about their drinking habits during the first two weeks of the first lockdown last year. But those behind the research say the latest lockdown is likely to have had a similar impact on people’s alcohol consumption.

Some reduced alcohol consumption

However, not everyone has turned to booze as a coping strategy, as one in three of those polled said they did not drink during lockdown. There were a number of factors that led to people consuming less alcohol than usual, including being ill with Covid-19.

The authors of the report commented: “Drinking less than usual was independently associated with being younger, male, black or ethnic minority, having a household income lower than £30,000, having been diagnosed with or suspected to have Covid-19, being stressed about becoming seriously ill from Covid-19, and not being a key worker.”

However, alcohol consumption is still typically higher among men, regardless of lockdown measures.

Dr Claire Garnett, an alcohol and smoking cessation researcher at the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, said: “Women might be more likely to drink more than usual during lockdown because they have been more negatively affected by the pandemic through increased gender inequalities as women are more likely to lose their jobs and carry the burdens of increased childcare and housework.”

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