Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Experts warn on two-day drinking

Health officials believe advising people never to drink two days in a row would have a positive impact

New guidelines telling people never to drink two days in a row are being considered by health officials.

The advice is part of a raft of proposals contained in Public Health England's (PHE) latest marketing strategy, covering a range of issues including sexual health, exercise and smoking.

A regional pilot scheme will take place, the strategy document states, focusing on promoting irregular drinking.

As part of a bid to make it easier for adults to drink at "lower-risk levels", the 92-page paper says: "D aily drinking is a key contributor to increased risk, so it is possible that promoting a simple approach such as never drinking two days in a row would have a positive impact."

PHE, an arms-length body of the Department of Health, said it is focusing on reducing increasing drinking among adults, as social marketing has little effect on those already dependent on alcohol.

It also admits there is "too little money" to tackle problems across all groups in society, including young people and young adults - stating that there is an £800 million spend each year by the drinks industry but only around £10 million available to public health and charities tackling issues associated with drinking.

The results of the initiatives are expected to inform a recommendation in time for the Chief Medical Officer's new guidance next year.

GP Martin Scurr told the Daily Mail: "Giving up alcohol on alternate days is not something most doctors would recognise as a helpful strategy to curb excessive drinking.

"It's hard to see how this plan from Public Health England will persuade excessive drinkers to rein back."

The PHE strategy said that changes to pricing, the availability and the strength of alcohol are more likely to have "immediate positive impacts" and added that it would continue to work on those areas.

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