London: Frequent drinking becomes more common in middle to old age, especially among men, reveals a new British study.
A substantial proportion of older men drink daily or most days of the week while a majority of women tend to drink monthly or on special occasions, it found.
"Understanding how drinking behaviour fluctuates throughout life is important to identify high risk groups and trends over time," said lead author Annie Britton of the University College, London.
Teenagers favour bouts of irregular heavy drinking episodes, only drinking once or twice a week, but as we grow older we shift into a regular drinking pattern.
In Britain, the majority of the adult population consumes alcohol and the harm associated with alcohol affects all society.
Research on the health consequences of alcohol needs to incorporate changes in drinking behaviour over the life course.
"The current evidence base lacks this consideration. Failure to include such dynamics in alcohol is likely to lead to incorrect risk estimates," Britton said.
The findings show how drinking behaviour changes over our lifetimes, from adolescence through to old age, and could be used to design public health initiatives and sensible drinking advice.
The findings were based on over 174,000 alcohol observations collected over a 34 year period, spanning from 1979 to 2013, from participants born in different eras.
Drinking patterns change more for men than for women, but both follow a similar pattern - a rapid increase in alcohol intake during adolescence leading to a peak in early adulthood, followed by a plateau in mid-life, and then a decline into older ages.
The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine.