Kiwis in denial on booze: survey

Only 15 percent of us admit to drinking too much, and beer pips white wine as the favourite Kiwi summer tipple, a poll has found.

The Herald-DigiPoll survey found 29.3 percent listed beer as their favourite summer tipple, followed by white wine on 27.5 percent.

A majority of men (50.6 percent) preferred beer, compared with only 9.3 percent of women who claimed the brew to be their favourite form of alcohol.

Just under 15 percent of respondents thought they drank too much; 84.2 percent said they did not.

Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said that was against all evidence - national alcohol surveys have consistently found about 25 percent of adults are binge drinkers or drinking at harmful levels.

"Many Kiwis tend to underestimate their drinking to justify that they're not drinking excessively, and this could be what the poll result reflects,'' said Ms Williams.

"We know that even small amounts of alcohol regularly can be quite harmful, but many drinkers would like to believe that only binge drinking is harmful.

"I think what we're seeing is that people are freely drinking alcohol because you can buy it in the supermarket, it's cheap and readily available, and it's not seen as being a drug,'' Ms Williams said.

"But this line of thinking is actually quite concerning, especially if alcohol is seen as just another soft drink or something to quench their thirst.''

The poll was taken between December 9 and December 16 with a sample size of 500 respondents.

Other surveys by the Alcohol Advisory Council found 647,200 people drank between three and seven times a week, 1.4 million drank at least once a week and 877,200 drank three times a month or less.

Beer is by far the most popular alcoholic drink in the country, and New Zealand is ranked 19th in the world in beer consumption, at around 75.5 litres a person a year.

A Law Commission paper, Alcohol in Our Lives, found drinking to intoxication and regular binge drinking "are persistent characteristics of New Zealand's drinking culture''.

- Lincoln Tan, New Zealand Herald

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