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 Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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