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alcohol health alliance uk

Alcohol pushed as essential to summer fun in Sunderland

Posted 15/07/11

Summer is here – and the region’s supermarkets are trying their hardest to persuade North Easterners that they need a drink to enjoy it.

Crates of beer stacked next to BBQ food and equipment and posters promoting cut price spirits to create the perfect summer drink are influencing the way we shop - triggering impulse purchases, increased consumption and problems caused by alcohol in the region.

Balance, the North East alcohol office, has carried out snapshot surveys at some of the region’s leading supermarkets to reveal that discounted alcohol is routinely the subject of summer promotions which encourages impulse buying.

When visiting supermarkets in Sunderland, the survey found:

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “There’s a lot of psychology involved in supermarkets trying to sell as much alcohol as possible to shoppers – regardless of whether or not they wanted it in the first place.

“By strongly suggesting that a large amount of booze is the perfect accompaniment to the food you’re buying or the social event you’re going to, supermarkets are actively suggesting you can’t socialise without alcohol.

“Many of us enjoy a drink, especially during the summer months, but it’s easy to get carried away, especially when supermarkets are making such a big noise that alcohol is hugely affordable.”

Summer drinking can have a double impact on families – especially at social events such as BBQs. Research shows that parents are the major influencer when it comes to the drinking habits of children and young people. A teenager who has seen his or her parent drunk is twice as likely to get drunk themselves and nearly a third of children feel scared when they see adults drunk or drinking too much.

Research carried out by Balance reveals that adults drinking too much around children is frowned upon in the North East – with four in five agreeing that adults should never drink too much in front of children.

Colin explained: “Children and alcohol do not mix and parental influence should not be underestimated. We know that the vast majority of parents across the North East take their responsibilities very seriously when it comes to their children. Parents are the biggest influence in a child’s life and we need to lead by example instead of normalising alcohol and making it part of a summer holiday or family experience.

“Getting drunk in front of the children is not only putting individual health at risk, it’s endangering the wellbeing of the child – both now and in the future, by creating another generation which views excessive drinking as perfectly normal.”

Cheap alcohol is fuelling the North East’s problem with drink – nearly half of men a third of women in the region are already drinking above the recommended limits.

Drinking too much, especially over a short space of time, can impact or our health leading to anxiety, impotence and hangovers. It can result in loss of consciousness and even fatal poisoning – and drinking in the sun increases the chance of dehydration and sunburn.

Increased alcohol consumption also leads to poor decision making and risk taking behaviour, and is linked to an increased risk of accident and injury and a greater likelihood of being involved in crime - as a victim or an offender.

Colin added: “Lots of us enjoy a drink at summer parties and BBQs and we aren’t suggesting for a moment that people shouldn’t. However, we want people to be aware that supermarkets are consciously trying to influence your buying decisions - bombarding you with cheap prices and promotions.”