People are drinking more coffee, tea and alcohol than they used to, but many are still not consuming enough liquid each day, according to a survey. A general awareness of what people should and should not drink had improved significantly, the University of Hong Kong poll showed. A growing number of the 596 people interviewed had become daily drinkers of coffee, tea, alcoholic drinks, milk and bottled and tap water. The number of people drinking alcohol on a daily basis rose from 3.6 to 5.1 per cent. The number of respondents aware of the recommended intake of eight glasses of water a day increased from 47 per cent in 1998 to 62 per cent this year. Two-thirds drink eight glasses of water or more a day, but 14 per cent were still taking less than the recommended daily intake. Seven per cent said they did not drink the daily recommended amount because they wanted to avoid going to the toilet. Less than one-third of 519 respondents questioned in Guangzhou were aware of the recommended level, but their drinking habits were similar to those in the SAR. The survey found a marked increase in the intake of coffee and tea, from 48 per cent drinking them every day in 1998, to 60 per cent. Tea and coffee were the second most popular drinks after water. The intake of soft drinks was not high in general. Half of the daily drinkers consumed two or more glasses a day. There was a four per cent increase in milk and soy milk drinkers, who consumed an average of 1.3 glasses a day. Associate professor of food and nutritional science at the university's Department of Zoology, Dr Edmond Li Tsze-shing, said people should not be too selective about fluids. 'It's okay if a person starts to drink a cup of coffee a day when he or she drank none before. It will be a cause for concern if the increase is excessive such as a jump from one to five cups a day,' said Dr Li. He advised that beverages containing caffeine were not good substitutes for water. 'Both alcohol and caffeine act as diuretics, causing the body to lose fluids. Plain water is the best replenishment of body fluid,' he said. The number of people who drank bottled water increased from 20 per cent to 26 per cent. Dr Li said the rise might be due to concerns over the quality of tap water.