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British youth do not possess the adequate knowledge to adhere to government guidelines for responsible alcohol consumption, a new study* published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review reveals.

Researchers surveyed 309 secondary school students and 125 university students in England and studied their knowledge and use of government guidelines for safe alcohol consumption, Science Daily reported.

Survey results concluded that most students lacked the knowledge and skills required to drink responsibly in accordance with British government guidelines. Participants were likely to underestimate the actual content of a drink and what they consider to be a “usual” drink was substantially larger than what the government deems to be an average alcoholic drink.

As a part of the survey, the university students reported their drinking habits and completed tasks in which they poured their “usual” drinks and compared those to actual government guidelines for maximum “unit” consumption on a daily and weekly basis.

For a majority of the survey’s components that examined the students’ knowledge of government guidelines, fewer than half of the respondents gave correct responses.

“Our results mean that people’s reports of drinking patterns in research may lead to inaccurate estimates of the health effects of different levels of alcohol use,” said Richard de Visser, PhD, of the University of Sussex and lead researcher on the study. “There may be a need for more and/or different alcohol education in schools and the media.”

*The study is part of the March special themed issue of the journal on low risk drinking guidelines.

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