Drink Free Days campaign marks a break from ‘futile’ nagging

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Middle-aged drinkers in the UK will be advised to have more alcohol-free days a week in a bid to cut its related health risks, as part of a new public health campaign that breaks from ‘futile narking’ at people over their alcohol consumption.

 Public Health England (PHE) and the Drinkaware Trust, the alcohol awareness charity, have unveiled Drink Free Days, a new joint campaign to help people reduce the amount of alcohol they are regularly drinking.

Duncan Selbie, the CEO of PHE acknowledged that while many enjoy a drink, it was important for people to monitor their alcohol consumption and aim to have some alcohol-free days in the week. He said: “Many of us enjoy a drink– but whether it’s a few in the pub after work a couple of times a week, some beers on the sofa watching the football or regular wine with our dinner – it’s all too easy to let our drinking creep up on us.

“Setting yourself a target of having more drink free days every week is an easy way to drink less and reduce the risks to your health.”

Selbie is quoted in the report as saying that the health risks of drinking should not be regarded in the same way as smoking, and that “narking at people” about what they may be doing wrong was futile. He said: “What is the point in being at some distance in people’s lives and just telling them they are doing everything wrong? But if we can run towards them with something they find helpful, that’s got to be a good thing.”

High alcohol consumption has been linked to a graver risk of developing serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and seven types of cancer. It also increases the amount of calories consumed and can lead to weight gain and obesity.

The report says guidance issued by Dame Sally Davies, the UK’s chief medical officer, advises that men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week, which amounts to six 175ml glasses of wine. However, a YouGov poll this year has revealed that one in five UK adults are drinking above the low risk guidelines and more than two thirds of this group say they would find reducing their drinking more difficult than improving their diet or exercising more.

The report says a recent study found that life would be shortened by an average of 1.3 years for women and 1.6 years for men for 40-year-old drinkers who exceeded the guidelines compared to those who stuck to the recommended limit.

The Drink Free Days campaign will include an app to track how many days they have drunk alcohol and how they compare to the rest of the population.

Shirley Cramer, CEO of The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), praised the new campaign, as an “easily understandable way” of beginning to control alcohol intake. She is quoted in the report as saying: “Millions of adults in the UK are drinking in ways that are harmful for their health, often without even realising it.

“The new campaign is a welcome and easily understandable way of starting to take control of alcohol intake. Setting a target of a certain number of drink-free days is a simple and achievable way of cutting down and improving health and wellbeing.”

Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, also backed the advice of taking alcohol free days as a way to “break the habit” of drinking too much, too often. She said: “Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure, which increases the risk of a heart attack and stroke.

“It’s easy to drink too much by having a pint or a glass or two of wine every night, but taking a few days off is a simple way to help you cut down and break the habit.”

The Guardian report

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