Pi Attitude Zone: Self-Gratification

What Were We Drinking?

How realistic are we about ourselves and our habits, really?  Humankind can be endearingly irrational in its behavior patterns, and strangely vague when asked to account for them.

In fact, to be brutally honest, there are wide and inexplicable gaps between what we do, what we think we do, and what we say we do when challenged about it.

A case in point is people’s drinking habits in the UK.  A gaping gulf has been noticed between the volume of alcoholic beverages that British people drink, and the amount they say they drink. 

It turns out that almost half the measured volume of drink consumed remains unaccounted for, suggesting that excess drinking in Britain is enormously more widespread than official figures allow.  What was less clear was whether a relatively small number of drinkers are consuming several times more than they report, or whether the ‘fib factor’ evenly affects larger numbers across the UK. Underage drinking may be part of the problem.

The credibility gap on alcohol consumption was revealed when sales data from Britain’s Revenue and Customs agency were compared with self-reporting alcohol consumption surveys

The study by University College London researchers attempted to match known alcohol sales figures with surveys of what people said they drank, throwing up discrepancies that left half of all volume sales unacknowledged.  Both sexes seem to be implicated when compared to previously accepted figures, with 19% more male drinkers apparently exceeding the daily recommended intake of alcohol, and 26% more women. 

How to account for this massive discrepancy?  Experts conjecture that part of the reason is people’s hazy notion of how much alcohol they have actually consumed, possibly due to misunderstandings on unit sizes.  The rest is down to under-reporting;  place your bets on whether these are ‘honest mistakes’, self-deception or manipulation of the truth.  Furthermore, the researchers conjectured that special drinking occasions like birthdays, weddings, Christmas and other holidays were being left out of account in the average respondent’s tally.

Wherever the reality gap comes from, Britain’s Department of Health is pronouncing itself deeply concerned.  “Problem drinking”, says one Member of Parliament, “costs the country £21 billion a year”.

Zone: Self-Gratification Country: Europe Product – Consumer Products