Swanswell warns holiday drink will pile on the pounds

09 August 2011

With the summer holiday season well underway, Swanswell’s warning that a man who drinks a pint and a half of strong lager five days a week will consume the calorific equivalent of four kebabs a week, or 46 cups of lard over a year.

For a woman, having a large glass of wine (3.3 units) five nights of the week is like eating almost two pizzas on top of her usual diet. Over 12 months, that’s an additional 45,840 calories or the equivalent of around 25 cups of lard (see tables 1 and 2 for further details).

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is urging people to think more about how much they’re drinking on holiday, and how it could affect them.

In addition to the well known long-term problems such as liver damage or depression, drinking regularly can also lead to weight gain because of the high number of calories in alcohol which also have little nutritional value.

Research suggests that drinking one large glass of wine or just over a pint of 5% lager a day on top of your usual diet could lead to an increase of 4lbs in just four weeks or almost three-and-a-half stone over the year.

Therefore regularly drinking up to the government’s recommended daily limit of units (3-4 units for men and 2-3 for women, with two alcohol-free days a week) has the potential to add tens of thousands of calories over the space of 12 months.  

However, the  risk to health increases further when people binge drink (drinking heavily in a short space of time to get drunk or feel the effects of alcohol, reports drinkaware).

Binge drinking is usually defined as having more than double their recommended daily limit in one session2 – so for men it would mean drinking more than 8 units a day and for women more than 6 units a day.

If a man was regularly binge drinking every Friday and Saturday night for example, not only would he risk more permanent damage to his health, he would also add calories equivalent to eating at least three cheeseburgers on top of what he usually would have that weekend.

Similarly if a woman was drinking to excess two evenings a week, she would have had at least the same amount of calories as eating almost two cheeseburgers in addition to what she would usually have in two days.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘There’s some pretty shocking statistics here that we hope provide food for thought for anyone who may be drinking too much.

Government guidance about how much we should be drinking is linked to units – most of us would struggle to say what our daily allowance of units should be, let alone calculate how many we’ve had.

We’ve taken a different approach to highlighting how excessive use can affect our bodies – it’s hard to find a good argument for putting 46 cups of lard in your body every year, after all.

Most importantly, if you think alcohol use is becoming a problem you shouldn’t be afraid to get help from organisations such as Swanswell who will be able to suggest the best course of action for you and help you change your life for the better.’

 

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