The majority are sticking to guidelines, the report found

The majority are sticking to guidelines, the report found

The majority of adults in England are drinking within the recommended weekly guidelines, but alcohol-related deaths are rising, latest official figures show. 

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) annual alcohol report, published today (30 May), found that, in 2011, 64% of men and 63% of women had drunk below the maximum recommended weekly unit level. For men, government guidelines state a limit of 21 units a week, while for women it is 14 units a week.

Three-quarters had heard of the daily drinking limits, up from 54% in 1997, according to the study, which collates information from previous reports.

However, the number of deaths "directly related" to alcohol rose by 3.8% between 2010 and 2011. Female deaths were up by 7.8% to 2,405 in the period, while male mortality rates increased by 1.8% to 4,518.

Meanwhile, drinking among young people remained relatively flat. In 2011, around 12% of school pupils admitted to having consumed alcohol in the seven days prior to being surveyed, compared to 13% in 2010. However, the ONS noted that "this continues a decline from 26% in 2001". 

Miles Beale, the Wine & Spirits Trade Association's chief executive, said the figures show that "significant progress is being made" with the majority of people drinking within the guidelines. 

He added: “Whilst we are concerned by the increase in alcohol-related deaths, these figures show that the Government must target its effort on the minority who drink to excess instead of penalising the responsible drinking majority.”

The British Beer & Pub Association said the figures showed that "key trends are moving in the right direction".