A new campaign is urging people between the ages of 45 and 65 to have regular “drink-free” days. Middle-aged drinkers are more likely than other age group to drink more than the recommended 14 units a week. A YouGov poll also shows that they find cutting back on alcohol far harder than eating healthily or exercising. Doctors say “drink-free” days will improve sleep, help with weight loss and reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cancer. Dr Julia Verne, a spokeswoman on liver disease for Public Health England said: “Having a day off drinking gives you a chance to clean your system and give your liver a rest. It also has an immediate impact on your sleep and calorie consumption. “People have also told us that the idea of a ‘drink-free’ day is much easier to manage than cutting down, say, from one large glass of wine to a small glass of wine.”
The campaign, Drink Free Days is a partnership between Public Health England and the alcohol education charity Drinkaware. The YouGov poll by PHE and Drinkaware surveyed nearly 9,000 adults aged 18 to 85 during May and June this year. It found that one in five were drinking more than the government’s 14 unit-a-week guidelines. And two-thirds said they would find cutting down on their drinking harder to do than improving their diet, exercising more or reducing their smoking. Dr Verne said: “Most middle-aged people are not drinking to become drunk. They see it as a social activity, or as a reward for success or compensation for a hard day at work. It’s become a habit and part of their lives. “But the more you drink, the more you increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart and liver disease and cancer.
“Ultimately you are more likely to cut down if you have some days off drinking,” she said. She also pointed out that many people in this demographic were struggling with their weight, and that they didn’t realize how many calories were contained in alcohol. The campaign is part of a growing awareness of the health risks of drinking. Recently a large global study by the Lancet showed that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, even though the risks associated with one glass a day were small. In 2016, the government cut the alcohol limits it recommended for men and women to no more than 14 units a week equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or seven glasses of wine.