Do older Australians drink too much? This study says we all do

The CSIRO have unveiled the results of their annual Healthy Diet Score and it’s not good news for anyone.

The survey of 86,000 people found 99 per cent of Australians were eating too much junk food – with alcohol the main discretionary food for those 30 and up – with an average score of only 59 out of 100.

But when it comes to the old story that the over-50’s are the biggest drinkers, the data proved otherwise with those aged 31 to 50 edging out the older generation.

51 to 71-year-olds had an average of 17.6 serves of alcohol a week – the younger group had 19.9 a week.

A daily tipple?

Most of us like a drink or two once we’ve reach our later years. The NSW Department of Health recently concluded that one in seven over-65’s were drinking on a daily basis.

In the report, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant underlined the serious health problems that can result from heavy drinking, but she also made a good point.

“I suspect that a lot of older Australians drink with their friends as part of their interactions and as we know having older people connected and socialising is in itself a benefit to them,” she told the ABC.

Australians also don’t drink nearly as much as we have in the past, with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report recording we are now consuming the lowest amount of alcohol per person since the early 1960s.

Of the people it looked at, 60 per cent were classified as low-risk, while another 22 per cent didn’t drink at all.

Knowing the risks

While alcohol is associated with a range of cancers and a heightened risk of falls and harm, getting older also makes us more susceptible to these too.

The CSIRO study shows many of us do drink more than the recommended amount but as grown adults who are well aware of the risks, it’s our decision to have a drink or two.

The survey also found older people had better diets than the younger generation, with Australians 71+ having an average score of 63 to 57 for 31 to 50-year-olds.

Retired people also had the highest average overall diet score of 62, the same as health industry workers. That’s certainly something to celebrate.

Learn your own diet score at the CSIRO website here.

If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol issues, there is support available:

Lifeline 13 11 14
DrugInfo 1300 85 85 84
Family Drug Helpline 1300 660 068

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A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.