York St John University research highlights the prevalence of ‘pre-loading’

A new study highlights the prevalence of pre-loading drinking behaviour in the general population.

Key findings from the research, which was carried out in Selby, includes that females reported consuming more units when pre-loading compared to males and that the average number of units consumed when pre-loading were 8.32 (more than half the amount the NHS recommend as a weekly limit).

The study also highlighted that very few participants could accurately predict their own level of alcohol toxicity regardless of age or gender.

Over the last twenty years there have been considerable changes in the UK in relation to licensing times and alcohol pricing, which has potentially resulted in a change in the general populations drinking habits.

Pre-loading refers to a recognised behaviour where people drink cheaper, supermarket bought alcohol at home and then go out into town later on in the night.

North Yorkshire Police had anecdotally noted a greater incidence of individuals presenting as having consumed substantial amounts of alcohol before going out, leading to greater levels of drunk and disorderly behaviour and risky behaviour. Due to the pressures a heavy drinking culture places upon the police and the health implications for the general population North Yorkshire Police aim to engage with the public to promote safer alcohol consumption.

The study, undertaken by Anna Macklin, Elliott Morgan and Nathalie Noret ,York St John University, and commissioned  by North Yorkshire Police, highlighted that pre-loading was evident in over half of all participants.

Regardless of gender, individuals that had pre-loaded blew higher breath alcohol measurements at the end of the night, which may reflect the effects of pre-loading or that they had consumed considerably more alcohol overall than the non pre-loaders.

Dr Anna Macklin, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at York St John University, said: “Despite government and police initiatives focusing on alcohol education and awareness many of the participants involved in the study struggled to list all of the alcohol that they had consumed in their pre-loading sessions and what this represented in terms of units.

“In addition, many participants were surprised at their breath alcohol measurements.”

Inspector Ian Mcniff, from Selby Police, said: “This survey was commissioned to both engage with drinkers on a night out to highlight the dangers of excessive drinking as well as obtain detailed information to assess drinking patterns, to allow us to target our advice to those most likely to drink excessively.”

The study aimed to provide a snapshot of drinking habits on a night out in a North Yorkshire town. The sampling took place in Selby over two nights in summer last year. Sixty-nine people, aged between 18 and 67, completed the questionnaire.

The research can be viewed here: http://www.yorksj.ac.uk/pdf/Selby-Alcohol-Survey-2015.pdf

North Yorkshire Police intend to use the results found to help inform their alcohol education program Alternate. For further information on North Yorkshire Police’s campaign, please visit http://www.alternatedrinking.org/

Read more about this news story on the University of York St John’s website here.