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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Mapping Alcohol Consumption in Great Britain

Ines Henriques-Cadby staff webpage: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/scharr/sections/ph/staff/profiles/ines

Twitter: @InesHC3
@ScHARRpubhealth

Alcohol consumption is a major public health concern in the UK as alcohol misuse is a significant source of short- and long-term health issues and social problems. While there has been a considerable amount of research into the factors that lead to alcohol misuse, the extent and impact of many of these factors is not yet fully understood.

Dr Ines Henriques-Cadby and her colleagues in the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group are working to better understand these factors, in particular, the public health impact of geographical alcohol availability and its associations to behaviours of consumption and misuse. Ines’s work focuses on the spatial relationship with harm and consumption, and the relationship between demographics and the types of outlets that are responsible for harm and problematic consumption.

The ultimate goal of this research is to increase the effectiveness of policy making and to feed into the work undertaken by many public services affected by alcohol misuse.

Map of central Sheffield showing outlets selling alcohol - pins show location with a single outlet, coloured circles show location with multiple outlets

Trends over time - the number of on-trade and off-trade outlets in Great Britain and Sheffield 2003-2015/17
Activity recommended for ages 13+

Glossary of terms

  • On-trade / on-trading: hospitality outlets selling alcohol for on-site consumption like pubs, bars, nightclubs, restaurants and hotels.
  • Off-trade / off-trading: retail outlets selling alcohol for consumption off premises, like supermarkets, convenience stores, mini markets, kiosks, wines shops, off-licenses.
  • Postal area: Postcodes in the UK look something like PO1 2ST. All postcodes sharing the first two letters (think PO for PO1 2ST) define a geographical region called the postal area. There are about 124 postcode areas in the UK, covering approximately 7.5 million addresses.
  • Postal sector: All postcodes sharing all characters but the last two letters (think PO1 2 for PO1 2ST) define a geographical region called the postal sector. In the UK, there are approximately 3000 addresses in a postal sector.

Here is a map of counts of on-trade alcohol outlets per postal area in Great Britain between 2003 and 2017.

Here is a map of counts of off-trade alcohol outlets per postal area in Great Britain between 2003 and 2015

The darker colours indicate a higher number of outlets and the lighter colours indicate a lower number.

We can see in the first animation that the map is much lighter by the end, with areas showing a higher count (darker colours) of on-trade alcohol outlets decreasing over time. In the second animation the map is much darker by the end, with areas showing a higher count of off-trade alcohol outlets increasing over time.

Now, let’s look at Sheffield and see what the trend is here.

Here is a map of counts of on-trade alcohol outlets per postal sector in Sheffield between 2003 and 2017.

Here is a map of counts of off-trade alcohol outlets per postal sector in Sheffield between 2003 and 2015.

The pattern in Sheffield is very similar to the pattern for Great Britain as a whole.

Finally, let’s look at the trend for all types of alcohol outlets (both on-trade and off trade).

Here is a map of counts of all alcohol outlets per area in Great Britain between 2003 and 2015.

Here is a map of counts of all alcohol outlets per postal sector in Sheffield between 2003 and 2015.

Did you notice any trends? It’s hard to tell isn’t it? This is because there is actually little variation in the overall number of all alcohol outlets both in Sheffield and in Great Britain between 2003 and 2015.

Interpreting the data

So what does this all mean?

From the research that these maps are based upon, Ines and her colleagues have concluded that the density of on-trade alcohol outlets has decreased substantially, while access to off-trade outlets has increased considerably. However, the overall availability of alcohol has changed very little (Angus et al., 2017).

Why is this important?

Understanding habits like drinking, which affects health and social behaviour both on an individual level and a societal level, is important for developing effective public health and social policy. If issues like this are not properly understood, it can lead to misleading research findings and bad policy decisions that can ultimately make the situation (and people’s lives) worse.

Interactive maps of all on-trade alcohol outlets in Great Britain - 2015 and 2017
Activity recommended for ages 13+

Now that you’ve got to grips with interpreting data and looking for trends, have a go on Ines’s interactive maps showing all on-trade alcohol outlets in Great Britain in 2015 and in 2017. These amazing maps allow you to look at the figures from a regional view, all the way down to the street view!

Can you identify any interesting differences between the 2015 and 2017 figures?

On-trade alcohol outlets in Great Britain 2015

On-trade alcohol outlets in Great Britain 2017

If you find any interesting trends, send them to Ines via the Ask a Researcher form below.

Ask Dr Ines Henriques-Cadby about alcohol consumption and health statistics

Submit your question

The answers to your questions will be available here on Friday 5 June 2020.

Create your own online surveys with SmartSurvey.

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