Kantar Poll Data (July 22-23, 2020)
About the survey
In the midst of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the ADF commissioned Kantar Public to conduct a national poll to explore the impact of the country’s initial lockdown.
The online survey of 1,000 Australians was conducted from July 22-23, 2020 during a time when some COVID-19 restrictions were beginning to lift for most states and territories, with the exception of Victoria.
The survey measured changes in alcohol consumption before, during and after lockdown; and the factors that drove changes in consumption. The survey sample was stratified to be representative of the Australian population by age, gender and location.
Change in drinking behaviours during lockdown
- Overall, 12% of Australians reported that they drank more alcohol than usual during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns.
- Of the 12% of Australians who increased their alcohol consumption, 53% continue to drink at elevated levels, even though lockdown restrictions are easing for much of Australia.
- During lockdown, 10% of Australians exceeded the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for safe alcohol consumption and were drinking eleven or more standard drinks per week.
- These Australians who exceeded the NHMRC guidelines also reported other unhealthy drinking behaviours. For example, those who drank more than 11 standard drinks per week were more likely to report:
- drinking alcohol on more days of the week (25% compared with 12% of those who drank within the guidelines)
- starting to consume alcohol earlier in the day (14% vs. 5%)
- starting to drink on a daily basis (10% compared vs. 3%).
- Some demographics were more likely to have increased their drinking during lockdown. The most notable difference was seen by age. Younger Australians reported greater increases in consumption – 20% of younger Australians increased their drinking compared with only 13% of middle-aged and 5% of older Australians.
- Not every Australian increased their alcohol consumption during lockdown. Overall, 20% of Australians drank less during lockdowns, including 4% of Australians who stopped drinking altogether.
The desire to reduce alcohol consumption
- Nearly one fifth of all Australians would like to reduce their alcohol consumption.
- This figure is far greater for those who have been drinking more during lockdown – one half of these Australians would like to cut down their drinking.
- Younger Australians are also most likely to want to reduce their alcohol intake. 28% of younger Australians would like to reduce their alcohol intake compared with 22% of middle-aged and 10% of older Australians.
The impact of lockdown on positive and negative behaviours
- Increased alcohol consumption appears to have negatively impacted on the adoption of healthy behaviours during lockdown. Those that had increased their alcohol consumption during lockdown were more likely to have:
- exercised less (30% vs. 14%)
- increased their snacking on unhealthy food (15% compared with 4% of those who did not increase their drinking)
- slept less (19% vs. 6%).
- The period of COVID-19 lockdown was not entirely negative, with many Australians adopting positive behaviours. For example:
- 38% of Australians prepared more home-cooked meals than they used to
- 28% spent more quality time with their family
- 27% had the opportunity to read more
- 25% got more hours of sleep than they used to.
Awareness of habit formation
- Fewer than 10 per cent of Australians were able to accurately estimate how long on average it takes to form a new habit.
- Only 9.5% of poll respondents selected ‘Two months’ in response to ‘Approximately how many days of repeat behavior do you think it takes to form a habit?’ (from a series of different time options spanning one week to over one year).
The release of the poll data comes as the Alcohol and Drug Foundation launches a new national health campaign – Break the Habit – revealing that it takes only around 66 days to form a habit – roughly the same amount of time most Australians spent in lockdown.
For those Australians who increased alcohol consumption during lockdown, even small increases to the amount of alcohol consumed can become harder to shift over time.
Break the Habit encourages people to consider their recent drinking patterns, help them recognise any problem signs and what to do to turn them around.