Middle-aged people should have ‘drink-free’ days, say campaigners

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Middle aged people at a dinner party

Around 10 million people in England drink in ways that increase health risks and many are struggling to cut down.

This has led to organisations such as Public Health England and Drinkaware to call for middle aged people to have ‘drink-free’ days each week.

A YouGov poll has found that one in five of UK adults are drinking above the Chief Medical Officer’s low risk drinking guidelines and more than two thirds of these say they would find cutting down on their drinking harder to do than one or more other lifestyle changes – improving their diet, exercising more, or reducing their smoking, if they were smokers.

Public Health England and alcohol education charity Drinkaware are today (10 September 2018) jointly launching a new campaign ‘Drink Free Days’ to help people cut down on the amount of alcohol they are regularly drinking.

The campaign will be encouraging middle-aged drinkers to use the tactic of taking more days off from drinking as a way of reducing their health risks from alcohol.

The more alcohol people drink, the greater their risk of developing a number of serious potentially life limiting health conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as seven types of cancer.

Regular drinking also increases the number of calories consumed and can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Evidence from behavioural science suggests that simple and easy ways of helping people to change their behaviour are the most effective, which is why Drinkaware and PHE have chosen to focus on Drink Free Days.

Pre-campaign research also found that the concept resonated strongly with people and was seen as clear to follow, positive and achievable.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive at Public Health England, 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.”

About 10 million people in England are drinking in ways that increases the risks and many are struggling to cut down.

Drinkaware Chief Executive Elaine Hindal said: “This new partnership between Public Health England and Drinkaware is a fresh and bold step in our work to reduce alcohol harm. PHE’s One You digital platform has a strong track record on encouraging behaviour change; Drinkaware is an independent educational charity with an extensive reach to the key audiences. Working together to help communicate the message that having drink free days will reduce the risks to your health is the first move in what we hope will be a long term partnership.”

Former England and Liverpool footballer John Barnes is supporting the campaign which will be providing people with a range of tools and resources to help them cut back and make better choices about their drinking.

John said: “This is an important campaign highlighting how many of us don’t realise that we are drinking in ways that could be harming our health and how we are struggling to moderate.

A beer here and a glass of wine there might not seem like much but the units can add up and so too can the health risks.”

A dedicated website provides all the information, resources and apps to help support people, including the One You Drink Free Days app and Drinkaware’s Drink Compare Calculator.

Useful links

The Drink Free Days app is a simple and easy way to track the days you drink alcohol and the days you don’t.

One You from Public Health England is the first nationwide programme to support adults in making simple changes that can have a huge influence on their health

Evidence review: this PHE review looks at the impact of alcohol on the public health and the effectiveness of alcohol control policies.

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