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The practice of pre-drinking - drinking at home before a night out - was prolific across the 25 nations the study covered, but New Zealand's rates were especially high, showing an estimated 78.7 per cent of 1560 Kiwis surveyed pre-loaded.
That figure was behind only Ireland (85.4 per cent of 1883 respondents), Norway (80.5 per cent of 174) and Canada (80.2 per cent of 962), and ahead of Australia (64.1 per cent of 1855), the United States (65 per cent of 3878) and the UK (75.3 per cent of 4763).
The research, published today by Swiss and Australian researchers in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, found that countries with higher levels of drinking in general - New Zealand's prevalence of current drinkers was estimated at 79.5 per cent - also had a higher percentage of pre-drinkers as a result.
The authors said this suggested pre-drinking was affected by the same cultural tendency to drink that underpinned alcohol use in the general population.
The findings weren't surprising to alcohol researcher Dr Nicki Jackson, executive director of Alcohol Healthwatch.
"New Zealand has one of the highest prevalences of pre-drinking behaviour - over three quarters of people between the ages of 35 - which is aligned to the prevalence that we have from smaller studies."
Jackson said a big factor was the price difference between alcohol bought on-licence and off-licence.
"In New Zealand, where we have a high density of off-licence outlets, we know from research that where we have increased competition for off-licences then the prices come down and that increases opportunities to purchase alcohol at a very low price.
"And we are talking about buying [a ready-to-drink] and spirits-based drink for less than $2 each; and of course, young people who are very price-sensitive will often go for the cheapest option."
Jackson believed New Zealand had to "take a stand" to increase the price of alcohol, especially within off-licence premises.
"We haven't had any movement for a long, long time on this and we would like the same amount of attention that's paid to cigarette tax to be applied to alcohol.
"We also know that the prevalence of hazardous drinking is increasing again - so we can't be complacent here."
Waikato Hospital Emergency Department clinical director Dr John Bonning said while only one New Zealand hospital collected data on where over-intoxicated patients had purchased their alcohol, pre-loading was contributing to a growing problem for front-line doctors.
Binge-drinking appeared to be part of the culture of Australia and New Zealand, said Bonning, chairman of the NZ Faculty of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine.
"On a given Saturday night, one in four people in EDs around the entire country are there as a result of alcohol," he said.
"They are there as a result of their own over-indulgence and that's something that is preventable."
Overall, the new study showed that more than 50 per cent of people surveyed across all countries were pre-drinking before a night out and the greatest percentage of pre-drinkers was in either English-speaking or Nordic countries.
The only countries whose prevalence of pre-loading fell below 50 per cent were Greece (17.7 per cent of 283 respondents), Brazil (32.2 per cent of 3931) Switzerland (48.8 per cent of 3672) Poland (47.9 per cent of 334) and Hungary (46.2 per cent of 3308).