Experts think the “missing units” are consumed on special occasions like birthdays and weddings, which drinkers fail to count.
The amount of alcohol consumed in England has been underestimated by the equivalent of 12 million bottles of wine a week, according to new research.
Sales figures have long indicated people drink significantly more than official reports suggest.
Experts believe the “missing units” are consumed during special occasions like birthdays, weddings and holidays.
People forget to include these extra units when quizzed on their alcohol consumption.
Mark Bellis from Liverpool John Moores University, who wrote the report, told Sky News: “There’s a bit of turning a blind eye to some of those drinking occasions which push up the number of units people drink.
“The problem is there’s still a real issue from a health perspective.”
The research, funded by Alcohol Research and published in the BMC Medicine journal, found people aged 25 to 34 drink the most on these occasions – each consuming an amount that equates to an extra two bottles of wine.
Sky News asked a group of young drinkers if they tell the truth about their drinking habits.
Chris Durnford said: “I suppose when you are asked by a doctor or someone professional, you are always thinking you should make it a little bit lower, make it a bit more acceptable.”
His friend Andy Freeman added: “I think I probably lie.
“I think generally you underestimate with doctors the amount that you do drink.”
But Charlotte Wakefield said: “I think I’m quite honest, I don’t actually drink in the week at all.