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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!)