Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Survey says: Canadians lowball how much alcohol they drink, especially wine

VANCOUVER - It turns out Canadians lowball the amount of alcohol they drink by up to a whopping 75 per cent, especially when it comes to wine.

A study by the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria said that's a problem because surveys of alcohol consumption are crucial to estimating disease and injury caused by people's favourite recreational drug.

The centre's director, Tim Stockwell, said it's easier for society to ignore the risks associated with alcohol consumption when policies are based on a gross underestimation of how much people actually drink.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, found that Canadians under age 24 are most likely to under-report how much alcohol they drink, and there's no difference in the amounts of lowballing by men and women.

Data included in the study are from the first three years of daily Health Canada phone surveys of 45,000 people across the country between 2008 and 2012.

Canadians were asked what type of alcohol and how many drinks they'd had over the last week, the last month, the last year and the day before — a question that provided the most accurate information based on memory, said Stockwell, who is also a psychology professor at UVic.

He said the results showed people reported only about one third of their consumption when the amounts were compared to how much alcohol was actually sold every year — 8.2 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15 and over.

That amounts to 480 bottles of beer, 91 bottles of wine or 27 bottles of spirits, Stockwell said.

Canadians in the North are likely to drink an average of 13 litres or more and residents in Eastern Canada drink the least compared to national figures — possibly because of the price of alcohol, he said.

The study suggested respondents who reported drinking once a month, on average, were likely to have consumed alcohol twice a month. Someone who said they drank once a week actually partook twice, and respondents who said they imbibed every day in a week consumed alcohol six times.

National low-risk guidelines in Canada recommend women have no more than two drinks a day, or 10 a week, and that men consume no more than three a day, or 15 drinks a week.

Stockwell said wine drinkers were more likely to under-report their consumption, possibly because unlike beer in a bottle or can, the size of a drink of wine is not fixed.

"People have their wine topped up so it's very hard to keep track of it."

Unlike in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, labels on bottles of alcohol in Canada, and the United States, don't include the number of standard drinks, making it hard to gauge how much guzzling is going on.

"So Canadians generally have a very poor, misty idea of how much they drink," Stockwell said.

The study results could lead to better policies regarding alcohol, which he said causes about 10 times more harm compared to illicit drugs.

Gerald Thomas, an alcohol researcher associated with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse in Ottawa, said the study results show that while there is often a focus on alcoholics, there should also be more of a recognition about people who overdrink, often leading to health risks and violence.

He said the data suggest that Canada, as one of the few countries in the world with government-owned liquor stores, should maintain such monopolies to control the availability of alcohol.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the study includes 2 years of data.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Sudden Surge: Flood of 2014
Opportunity Magazine — The Bakken
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media