Non-Maori men aged 50 or over are bigger drinkers than Maori men in the same age bracket, a new study on the drinking patterns of older Kiwis has revealed.

The study - 2017 The drinking patterns of older New Zealanders: National and International Comparisons - also found that Maori were more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Maori.

The report, commissioned by the Health Protection Agency, focused on New Zealanders aged 50 or over.

Between 1950 and 2013, the global population of older adults increased by 400 per cent [from 202 million to 841 million]. By 2050 this number is expected to triple, the report found.

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In New Zealand, the older population has doubled since 1980 and is expected to double again by 2036 when approximately 24 per cent of the population will be aged 65 years and over.

The report, which took Massey University researchers two years to complete, also analysed and compared the drinking habits of Maori and non-Maori.

While the differences were small, there were significant differences in drinking
frequency, average quantity consumed, and binge drinking.

It revealed that 23 per cent of older Maori were more likely to abstain than older non-Maori, [14 per cent], older Maori drank alcohol slightly less frequently than older non-Māori and older Maori consumed a slightly higher quantity of alcohol per occasion than older non-Maori.

It found older men drank alcohol "far more frequently" than older women, older men consumed much more on typical occasions when drinking alcohol than
older women and older men were far more likely to binge drink than older women.

Non-Maori men were also worse at hazardous drinking - 55 per cent compared with 52 per cent of Maori men.

Overall, 26 per cent of older Maori women and 30 per cent of older non-Maori women were hazardous drinkers.

Kiwi men who returned a hazardous drinking score were higher among those who had good economic living standards, and were in good physical health.

Researchers also compared Kiwis internationally and showed that New Zealand had the second highest proportion of older drinkers - 83 per cent - behind only England, 87 per cent, and considerably more than those in United States, 62 per cent, and Mexico, 56 per cent.

It also revealed about 88 per cent of older men and 79 per cent of older women in New Zealand were drinkers, a gender gap vastly different to those in the Russian Federation (87 per cent and 66 per cent) and China (56 per cent and 11 per cent).

Sixty per cent of older New Zealanders were classified as drinking "frequently" - two or more days per week on average.

Thirty four per cent of older NZ drinkers consume four or more days per week which is lower than China, at 64 per cent but similar to England, 32 per cent.

Sixteen per cent of older New Zealand drinkers consumed five or more drinks on a typical occasion.

But the statistics for Kiwi men was four times worse than that of women, with 26 per cent consuming five or more drinks on each occasion - four times the proportion of New Zealand women, 6 per cent, and one of the highest for men across all countries.

Researchers defined frequent heavy drinkers as men who had five or more drinks and three or more drinks for women whose alcohol consumption was two to three days per week.

The number, 12 per cent, of "very frequent" heavy drinkers - those who had alcohol four or more days per week - also outnumbered "frequent" heavy drinkers at 6 per cent.

Men again outnumbered women in frequency of drinking, 22 per cent compared with 14 per cent of women.

NEW ZEALAND'S AGEING BOOZERS
[Kiwis aged over 50]

* 88 per cent of older men and 79 per cent of older women in New Zealand are drinkers
* 23 per cent of older Maori were more likely to abstain than older non-Maori,14 per cent
* Older Maori drank alcohol slightly less frequently than older non-Maori
* Older Maori consume a slightly higher quantity of alcohol per occasion than older non-Maori
* Non-Maori men are prone to hazardous drinking, 55 per cent compared with 52 per cent of Maori men
* 34 per cent older NZ drinkers consume on four or more days per week
* 16 per cent of older Kiwi drinkers consume five or more drinks at a time.