Britons drink too much and have bad eating habits, according to some foreigners.

People overseas are none too keen on UK weather or food either, the poll carried out for the British Council found.

Politeness and good manners are the best characteristic of UK people, who are also seen as educated and skilled.

The poll was based on responses by more than 5,000 people aged 18-34 in Brazil, China, Germany, India and the USA.

Asked for their views on people in the UK, those surveyed put drinking too much as the worst characteristic, followed by bad eating habits, ignorance of other cultures, too nationalistic and intolerance toward people from other countries.

On the plus side, 46% put politeness and good manners as the best characteristic, while 37% reckoned Britons are educated and skilled, 31% saw them as friendly, 27% said they respected the rule of law and 25% said they had a good sense of humour.

When asked to name a person they were interested in and associate with contemporary UK arts and culture, the overseas young people most commonly came up William Shakespeare, followed by the Queen and David Beckham.

Culture and history were seen as the UK's most attractive features, with weather and food its least.

A wider survey that included young adults in Britain as well as the other five countries showed that, in terms of overall "attractiveness", the UK was ranked second only to the USA, sharing joint second place with Australia.

With respondents not permitted to rate their own country, France was in fourth place and Italy fifth.

British Council strategy director John Worne said: "This research confirms culture and education are among the UK's biggest assets in attracting people from important countries to the UK's future.

"But, while there's a lot to be proud of, some stereotypes still colour the way that we're viewed overseas."