The number of women regularly drinking more than twice the Government's recommended maximum for alcohol has doubled in the last decade, but drinking has fallen among 16-24-year-olds, according to new research.

Around 15% of women in the UK regularly consumed more than twice the daily maximum recommended number of alcoholic units in 2006, compared to around 7% in 1998, according to new research published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) today (6 May).

Most of the increase is attributed to women above the age of 25, the study said, adding that there has also been a "steady increase" in drinking among older adults aged between 45 and 65.

In the 16-24 age range, alcohol consumption has fallen on average, although this group still drinks more per head than other age groups.

The JRF commissioned researchers at Oxford Brookes University to examine data on alcohol consumption over the last 20 to 30 years in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said today that the main findings of the study highlight the need for responsible drinking campaigns to be more tightly focused on groups most at risk.

WSTA CEO Jeremy Beadles said: "There is a real risk that a proper concern about alcohol misuse by a minority is translating into an obsession about the drinking habits of millions of perfectly normal people drinking well within the Government's guidelines."

"It's worth noting that this report shows that alcohol consumption by men has been falling since 2000, particularly amongst 16 to 24-year-olds, yet the number of women regularly drinking excessively doubled from 1998 to 2006. Perhaps we should be using these figures to focus on those who misuse alcohol, rather than those who don't."