03/06/2015 08:19 EST | Updated 12/06/2017 17:20 EST

The Older You Get, The More Often You Drink Alcohol, Study Finds

Friends Eating An Al Fresco Lunch, Holding Wineglasses
Cathy Yeulet via Getty Images
Friends Eating An Al Fresco Lunch, Holding Wineglasses

The frequency of alcohol consumption increases as you age, according to new research. The UK study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, said that doctors are seeing a growing number of alcohol misuse cases among older adults and that this finding supports concerns that middle-aged adults and the elderly might be abusing alcohol.

The study noted that teenagers drink heavily but do so infrequently -- once or twice a week. But as people grow older, their drinking shifts into a more regular frequency pattern. They drink less at each sitting, but they drink more frequently. A substantial proportion of older men in the UK drink daily or most days of the week, while a majority of women tend to drink monthly or on special occasions, the study found.

In the UK, the majority of the adult population consumes alcohol and the harm associated with alcohol affects all parts of society, according to a press release on the study. Lead author Dr. Annie Britton from University College London is quoted as saying, "Understanding how drinking behavior fluctuates throughout life is important to identify high risk groups and trends over time."

The researchers looked at both the average amount of alcohol consumed per week and the frequency of drinking. 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, said the release.

While the study found that drinking patterns change more for men than women, both genders follow a similar pattern: A rapid increase in the volume of alcohol consumption during adolescence that comes to a peak in early adulthood, followed by a plateau in mid-life, and then a decline in the volume consumed in one sitting into older ages. But as men age, the frequency of their alcohol intake increases.

A similar study published in 2013 found that more than a third of the British population drank unhealthy quantities of alcohol. The findings uncovered high levels of binge drinking and said there was a discrepancy between alcohol sales and the amount people say they drink in surveys. Another study said that despite having one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world, Brits are the least inclined to cut down their intake. That survey of more than 13,000 people across 12 countries found that Britons are over a third more likely to drink alcohol than the average and more than twice as likely to drink every day. And that's for all ages.

What do you think? Do you find people drink more frequently, the older they get? Let us know your thoughts in comments.

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