May 11 (UPI) -- Because people in different countries drink different types of alcohol, precisely calculating consumption can be difficult. But researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology developed a novel questionnaire to account for regional differences.
The scientists created illustrated cards for each geographical region to help respondents more accurately communicate the types and amounts of alcohol they consume on a regular basis.
The unique survey questions allowed scientists to compile the most accurate-yet measurement of nation-by-nation alcohol consumption in Europe. The findings -- detailed in the European Journal of Public Health -- show alcohol consumption varies widely across Europe.
The Irish drink the most alcohol overall. Portugal is home to the most binge drinkers -- Britain is a close second.
Men drink nearly twice as much alcohol as women, and women in Central and Eastern Europe consume the least alcohol.
In Northern Europe, Danes drink the most, while Norway hosts the largest number of weekend benders.
The drinking questionnaire was part of a larger study, the European Social Survey, which includes a variety of lifestyle and health questions. Participants are asked more than 200 questions during a half-hour, face-to-face interview.
"For the first time, we've been able to combine questions about living conditions, work, education and lifestyles with specific health incidents," Terje Andreas Eikemo, a professor of sociology at NTNU, said in a news release.
The research showed a correlation between wealth and drinking habits.
"Overall alcohol consumption is highest in the upper social strata, but binge drinking is most common in the lower social strata," Eikemo said.
The full results from the European Social Survey are publicly available online.