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GPs back Drink Free Days campaign

Public health experts want middle aged drinkers to change lifestyles

Mark Gould

Monday, 10 September 2018

GPs have backed a new public health campaign encouraging regular drinkers to have drink free days every week.

Public Health England (PHE) and alcohol education charity Drinkaware are today jointly launching a new campaign, Drink Free Days to help people cut down on the amount of alcohol they are regularly drinking. The campaign website provides all the information, resources and apps to help support people who want to cut down.

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.

A YouGov poll has found that one in five of UK adults are drinking above the chief medical officers’ low risk drinking guidelines and more than two thirds of these say they would find cutting down on their drinking harder than other lifestyle changes such as improving their diet, exercising more, or reducing their smoking.

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.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed the campaign, “Any form of substance misuse can have serious, negative consequences on our patients’ health and wellbeing. Alcohol intake has been linked to a range of serious, chronic diseases including liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, dementia and some cancers.

“GPs are not killjoys, and although there is not completely safe level of alcohol intake, the upper drinking limits are set for a reason, and we would encourage everyone to try and stick to limiting their intake to a maximum of 14 units a week, with at least two alcohol-free days every week.

“It’s always good to see balanced public awareness campaigns being launched to encourage patients to take note of how much they drink and, in turn, make sensible lifestyle choices that could drastically improve their health and wellbeing.”

Drinkaware chief executive Elaine Hindal said an increasing number of people, particularly middle-aged drinkers, are drinking in ways that are putting them at risk of serious and potentially life-limiting conditions such as heart disease, liver disease and some types of cancer.

“That’s where this campaign comes in and we’re delighted to be joining forces with Public Health England for the first time to help give people that knowledge.

“Having a few drink free days each week, will help reduce the risks to your health and improve your wellbeing.”

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