Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Magazine calls for re-think on 'binge culture'

In an article in the Spectator magazine (30 December) Leah McLaren says much of the medical profession's concern with alcohol misuse is over-hyped and fails to understand the benefits of moderate drinking. McLaren points out that a £100 million campaign run by the Drinkaware Trust is funded, among others, by Tesco and Waitrose, and that such suggestions as serving water at dinner parties, starting the day with a brisk walk and eating lots of bananas will have no impact on serious alcoholics.
McClaren points out that the overwhelming majority of the British drink sensibly and moderately and that so-called "dangerous levels" of consumption in Britain would be considered the norm in France and most of Europe.
McClaren points to the bewildering change of attitudes in the medical profession. Pregnant women used to be encouraged to take a moderate amount of alcohol -- Guinness, rich in iron, was singled out in this respect -- but now they are told to avoid alcohol entirely. Research shows, McClaren says, that regular moderate drinking is good for health, especially the heart: moderate drinkers have fewer heart problems than total abstainers.
The article quotes Professor David Hanson, a sociologist at New York State University and an expert on the sociology of drinks, who says the British government's statistics on unhealthy drinking are wildly exaggerated. "There's this idea that almsot any alcohol is bad," Hanson adds. "You've got this idea that alcohol is poison and that we need to reduce consumption and that will solve all our social problems. That simply doesn't bear out historically. In the U.S., for example, Prohibition actually introduced the practice of heavy drinking by making liquor an illegal substance."
McClaren points to the cultural benefits of drink. "The pub is Britain's finest institution. The death of the pub leads to young people going to nightclubs. The local pub might well be the government's best weapon when it comes to getting young people to 'drink safe' or 'know their limits'."


Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

God preseve us from experts.

7 January 2010 at 11:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Johnny -

Cheers to that.

19 January 2010 at 19:09  

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