The Portman Group has responded to the Office for National Statistics' plans to update its drinking surveys in the UK.

The trade body, which focuses on social responsibility within the alcoholic drinks industry, said last week that, in light of the proposed changes to the ONS surveys, which plan to raise the presumed alcoholic content of an average glass of wine and update the estimated strength of beers, lagers and ciders, it believes UK drinking habits are unlikely to change.

Portman Group CEO David Poley said: "As long as people are consistently underestimating their drinking, trends in the nation's drinking remain the same. Over the last five years, ONS figures show the number of adults drinking excessively has fallen and fewer 16-24 year-olds are now binge drinking. All major producers already unit label their drinks and the Government's new publicity campaign will help to build further consumer awareness."

The ONS, which has noted the increase in the availability of stronger wines as well as larger wine glasses in licensed premises, will in future include a question in its survey relating to wine glass size.

"While not reflecting a real change in individuals' drinking habits, the updates produce higher overall estimates of average weekly alcohol consumption. Applied to General Household Survey data for 2005, the updated methodology shows average weekly alcohol consumption as approximately one-third higher, up from 10.8 units to 14.3 units," added the ONS.

The results using the updated methodology will be available in January within both the 2006 General Household Survey and the 2007 ONS Omnibus survey, as well as featuring later in month in the 2006 Health Survey for England.