Selected media stories since the November roundup.
Public Health England (PHE) warned that eight in every 10 people aged 40 to 60 in England are overweight, drink too much or get too little exercise, reported the BBC. The PHE website and app has a quiz that gives users a health score based on their lifestyle habits by asking lifestyle questions that include drinking habits.
The Telegraph, reported on new [draft] NICE guidelines on alcohol physical problems which suggest women who drink two glasses of wine a night should be sent for scans by their GPs to check for cirrhosis. It reported critics said it was a “colossal waste of NHS resources”, but others have defended the advice.
Mailonline featured a report on the neuroscience of drinking, and what happens in the brain when drunk. The Express examined the impact on the rest of the body of drinking every day in a month, and the Star reported on research that says just one night of heavy drinking can cause bacteria to leak from the gut, causing increased levels of toxins in the blood.
Drinking even a small amount of alcohol on a regular basis could be associated with a higher risk of irregular heart rhythms, said the Express, reporting on US research which found that while moderate amounts of alcohol appear protective for the ‘plumbing’ or blood supply to the heart muscle, the benefits of alcohol do not extend to the electrical parts of the heart or heartbeat.
A BBC One programme Do I Drink Too Much? investigated our relationship with alcohol and the latest advice from experts. Perhaps one answer is to try Dry January; the Huffington Post gave four tips to enjoy the month alcohol free, whilst the Express advised on how to cut down.
New government figures show that since 2012 the equivalent of 10 infantry battalions of soldiers have required medical treatment for drinking too much alcohol, reported the Sun. Alcohol abuse was far higher in the Army with 4,562 soldiers requiring medical treatment compared with the 639 RAF personnel and 1,242 members of the Royal Navy, needing attention.
Children are rejecting alcohol and cigarettes in favour of smartphones said the Sun, reporting on the 2015 Health Survey for England results. Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said in the Telegraph: ‘We welcome the continuing downward trend in children aged 8-15 being exposed to alcohol.”
Newsweek reported that women who binge drink are unfairly portrayed by the media compared to their male counterparts, according to researchers who say female drinkers in the UK are shown in a more negative light— despite drinking less: "Men were more frequently characterised as violent or disorderly, while women were characterised as out of control, putting themselves in danger, harming their physical appearance and burdening men. Descriptions of female ‘binge’ drinkers' clothing and appearance were typically moralistic."
The Sun asked how much is too much when it comes to drink-driving and outlined the factors that influence blood alcohol concentration, concluding "As a rule of thumb, two pints of regular-strength lager or two small glasses of wine would put you over the limit. But this isn’t a catch-all rule." Meanwhile the BBC reported that one in five motorists has driven the morning after a night of drinking, despite knowing they could be over the drink-drive limit, a survey of almost 20,000 motorists, commissioned by the AA, suggests.
Care News announced that Alcohol Research UK and Alcohol Concern have plans to merge by April 2017. Combined, the two charities hope to be in a much stronger position to use robust evidence to campaign for, and support those working to achieve, a reduction in alcohol harms, although Will Haydock has blogged about his reservations.
Forty-three doctors, medical groups, campaigners, and public health, religious and children’s organisations have written to the Treasurer, Philip Hammond (pictured), asking him to use his first budget in spring 2017 to increase the duty on certain alcohol products including white cider, reported the Guardian.
The thirst for adult soft drinks grows, said the Financial Times in an analysis of the market which showed 'groups from Diageo to Britvic are tapping the taste for zero-proof beverages.' Meanwhile Tesco has vowed to become the champion of low and no-alcohol drinks and is introducing the largest range in its history, reported Off Licence News