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alcohol health alliance uk

Keep track of how much you drink this summer

Posted 25/05/10

A few lagers or glasses of wine may complement the summer barbeque – but did you know that we could be consuming twice as much alcohol when we drink at home as we do on a night out?

Hartlepool residents are being urged to measure how much they drink this summer after research revealed that people drinking at home in the North East are pouring themselves more than double what they would be served in a pub.

These extra sips can make all the difference for people who might wrongly think they are drinking within the NHS recommended limits of 2-3 units a day for women (about two small glasses of wine) and 3-4 units a day for men (about two pints of 4% lager).

The results of drinking at or above these limits on a daily, or almost daily basis, range from hangovers, anxiety and impotence to breast cancer, stroke and heart attack. It can also put strain on relationships with family and friends.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “Many of us enjoy a drink, especially during the summer months. But it’s easy to get carried away and it’s worrying to see just how much more people might be unwittingly pouring for themselves and their friends at home on a regular basis when the nights are longer and warmer.

“Over time, such over-generosity may backfire and harm your health. If you want to minimise your risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease and stroke, it’s worth paying attention to the size of your measures.

“In addition to damaging our health, drink can transform our moods and personalities, making us depressed, aggressive or irritable and harming our relationships with friends and family.”

It’s easy to cut down – why not try some of Balance’s top tips.

• Measure it: use a measure at home when you’re pouring drinks for you or your guests.
• Dilute it: give yourself a longer drink by adding water, sparkling water or a soft drink to your spirits.
• Reduce it: if you’re drinking wine, simply choose the smaller glass and fill it up slightly less. You’ll hardly notice but it all adds up.
• Try it: be brave and try lower alcohol alternatives. There are many more, high quality low- or no-alcohol beers and wines available now so give it a try.
• Alternate it: slow down your speed of drinking by having a non-alcoholic drink, such as water or orange juice, in between alcoholic drinks.
• Save it: as an added incentive, put the money you’d normally spend on alcohol for the home in a piggy-bank and see how much you’ve saved by the end of the month.
• Log it: keeping track of your alcohol intake can be a real eye-opener. Fill in a drink diary on www.nhs.uk/units or download the new Drinks Tracker from NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk/alcohol.