One in four drinkers increased alcohol intake during first lockdown

One in four drinkers increased their alcohol consumption during coronavirus lockdown… with young middle-class women most likely to turn to booze to cope, study suggests

  • University College London surveyed 30,000 people during the first lockdown
  • Research suggests that women may be more vulnerable to lockdown anxieties
  • Quarter of all drinkers increased their alcohol intake in first lockdown last spring 

Young middle-class women are the most likely to turn to drink to cope with lockdown, a study says.

A quarter of all drinkers increased their alcohol intake after stay-at-home rules were imposed last spring.

Most of these were younger educated women on above-average salaries.

Research from University College London found young middle-class educated women are most likely to turn to drink to cope with lockdown according to a survey conducted last spring

Researchers suggest women may be more vulnerable to lockdown anxieties over money and jobs, and may also face an added burden of looking after children and home schooling.

The University College London survey of 30,000 people, taken during the first fortnight of the first lockdown, follows widespread concern that boredom, loneliness, worries about family and friends, and difficulties with work and money led to a major increase in drinking.

A third of those surveyed did not drink during lockdown but researchers say those who drank more last year are likely to have increased their alcohol use again during the current lockdown.

The study said: ‘Younger women with post-16 educational qualifications and a household income over £30,000 were more likely to report increased alcohol consumption.’

It also indicated that ‘having an anxiety disorder, being stressed about finances or about catching or becoming seriously ill from Covid-19 were factors associated with increased alcohol consumption.’

Dr Claire Garnett of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care said: ‘Despite women being more likely than men to report drinking more than usual during lockdown, heaviness of drinking is still positively associated with being male, which was the case before lockdown.

Researchers at UCL (pictured) surveyed 30,000 people during the first national lockdown

‘Women might be more likely to drink more than usual during lockdown because they have been more negatively affected by the pandemic through increased gender inequalities as women are more likely to lose their jobs and carry the burdens of increased childcare and housework,’ she added.

The report said: ‘Drinking less than usual was independently associated with being younger, male, black or ethnic minority, having a household income lower than £30,000, having been diagnosed with or suspected to have Covid-19, taking on COVID-19, being stressed about becoming seriously ill from Covid-19, and not being a key worker.’

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