Risky Drinking – 8 million of us are drinking too much

Today we publish our alcohol report on what we’ve come to call ‘Risky Drinking’, covered in the Sun Tel, Express, Independent, Telegraph, Huff Post. We have a public health crisis in the making – a ticking time-bomb of alcohol related disease:

  • 8 million adults are drinking are drinking above the recommended weekly limits and in most cases, unwittingly increasing their risk of cancer, stroke, liver disease and hypertension.There can easily be 10 units of alcohol in one bottle of wine, and 3 in a large glass of wine.
  • We have the most lax regulation of alcohol advertising and marketing in Europe, meaning that we are all – including children – constantly bombarded with lifestyle images equating drinking with success and relaxation.
  • There is still much confusion about units amongst individuals and GPs; 80% of GPs surveyed said they thought patients should be asked about their drinking but only 20% actually do. 65% of GPs always ask about smoking.

The  burden on the NHS is growing; 35% of attendances at A&E are alcohol related and liver disease has gone up two-fold in the past two decades in the UK while falling across Europe. Yes, we all have to die of something, but you do not want to die of excruciating liver failure or throat cancer – and you are many times more likely to if you if you are drinking a couple of glasses of wine a day.

We recommend:

  • Advertising the amount of units on the front of alcohol bottles and cans
  • A public health campaign to raise awareness and DH guidance that drinking everyday is not recommended – there is no safe limit
  • Screening everyone for alcohol use at the age of 30 and as part of the 40-74 year health checks
  • Promoting ‘Brief Interventions’, a proven way where healthcare professionals can review alcohol consumption with patients and direct to appropriate services, resulting in a reduction of units drunk
  • Legislating to bring the UK in line with WHO recommendations on advertising
  • Minimum pricing of 40p a unit

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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