Middle-aged drinkers are being encouraged to have more alcohol-free days as part of a new health campaign.
Public Health England said those aged between 45 and 65 were more likely to surpass the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week, which is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.
According to the Health Survey for England published last December, those polled aged 45-54 consume an average of 17 units in seven days while those aged 55-64 drink 19.5 units on average.
To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink most weeks:
- men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
- spread your drinking over three or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
- if you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week
Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England, said: “Many of us enjoy a drink – but whether it’s a few in the pub after work a couple of times a week, some beers on the sofa watching the football or regular wine with our dinner – it’s all too easy to let our drinking creep up on us.
“Setting yourself a target of having more drink-free days every week is an easy way to drink less and reduce the risks to your health.”
Speaking to the Times, he added: “Our best evidence says try to make it consecutive two days (off alcohol) if you can.
“It’s not a target, it’s not to go mad on the other five days, it’s an achievable way of thinking about how to manage your levels of drink.”
A poll of nearly 9,000 adults by YouGov suggested people would find cutting down on their drinking harder than improving their diet, exercising more or cutting down on smoking.
The Drink Free Days campaign is part of a bid to raise awareness of the health problems associated with drinking and has seen the development of an app to give people “practical daily support” to stick to their days off from drinking.
Drinkaware chief executive Elaine Hindal said: “An increasing number of people, particularly middle-aged drinkers, are drinking in ways that are putting them at risk of serious and potentially life-limiting conditions such as heart disease, liver disease and some types of cancer.”
The guidance of not exceeding 14 units of alcohol a week comes from the UK’s chief medical officer – with a unit equivalent to a single measure of spirits or half a pint of average strength lager, and a 175ml glass of average strength wine equalling two units.