Generalisations about beer culture News

How much is too much?

The Department of Health today launched a £6m “know your limits” campaign, the point of which is to make people aware of how much they’re actually consuming. Interestingly, the scenarios it highlights are very “middle-class”, i.e it’s aimed at the middle-aged couple sharing a bottle of wine at home, rather than binge-drinking teenagers.

As the press-release points out, most people are unaware of how many units of alcohol are in their usual tipple. And so here’s a handy units calculator from the NHS, which incorporates strength and portion size.

There are two problems with this campaign. Firstly, it features one of the most seductive pints of lager I’ve ever seen in my life and had me craving lager at 7am when I saw it on breakfast telly. (Time to wonder about being an alcoholic again?)

The second, more serious problem, is that many British people’s reaction to being told what their limits are is to question the science. Perhaps correctly, because as Zythophile pointed out a while ago, the evidence supporting the current limits (2-3 per day for women, 3-4 per day for men) is not exactly conclusive. And certainly compared to what the average Brit actually drinks on a Friday night, it seems extremely low.

Then again, when I come back from the continent, these “limits” seem perfectly sensible, and I become convinced that we Brits drink too much.

I wouldn’t want to get accused of neo-Prohibitionism, and we’ve expressed on many occasions our view that “binge-drinking” is nothing new in our culture. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for some sensible reflection and education about exactly what we’re consuming.

Boak (up to four units already tonight…oops!)

6 replies on “How much is too much?”

That NHS table could be a great help to students trying to decide penalties in drinking games.

Wow… those units are about half the size of the units I use. I figure one 12-ounce bottle at 5% ABV is one unit. That’s 1.7 units to them!

It doesn’t seem like it should cost 6 million pounds to teach people that different alcohols have different strengths. It should take like two minutes. But I guess that’s government for you. It’s apparently the same on both sides of the ocean. Or did we inherit that bureaucracy from our colonizers? 😀

If what the Government said was really true, everyone I know whould be dead by now, every acquaintance in the pub would be dead too. I’d be well fecking dead.

Sensible drinking yes – nanny state nonsense like this, using figures plucked from the air, using my tax money – no thanks.

My rough rule of thumb is 3 days without drink and not getting rat-arsed on the rest of the week!

I don’t think Brits drink that much. According to some figures I read some time ago, people in countries like France, Germany, Spain and Italy (and I’m sure Czech Rep.) drink more. The difference is that alcohol consumption is spread throughout the day. In Spain two or three people will share a bottle of wine at lunch, in CZ it is not rare for people to have one or two pints at midday, etc. While in Britain it is mostly done in the evenings.
There also seems to be a different attitude towards alcohol. In many European countries people drink alcohol as the most natural thing, alcohol is something that you drink while having a good time with friends or for relaxing at home and getting drunk is something that may or may not happen, whereas many Brits and Americans seem to drink only with the purpose of getting drunk, with the aditional problem that many of them tend to get agressive after a few drinks, which is something not so commonly seen here in the Czech Rep, at least.

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