Almost one in four British adults are drinking “hazardous” levels of alcohol, according to a new report.

A study by the National Audit Office yesterday claimed more than 10 million people in the UK were drinking at harmful levels.

The report identifies three million people as ‘problem drinkers’, with a further seven million consuming levels of alcohol over the recommended amount of 14 units a week for women and 21 for men.

“Even where people know [the official guidelines], it is not easy to translate quantities of drink of varying degrees of strength into units of alcohol,” said Edward Leigh of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

“England is suffering an epidemic of drinking. Many drinkers are endangering their health and wellbeing and placing a huge burden on the health service.”

The news comes with retailers under increasing pressure to up the price of alcohol from campaigners against binge drinking and supporters of the pub trade.