Our bad habits: the lowdown

Wednesday 20th August

As a nation, we like to indulge. However, our chosen methods of relaxation can sometimes be bad for our health. Two of these methods are, of course, drinking alcohol and smoking, despite the obvious health dangers that both carry with them.

Our alcohol habits

Overconsumption of alcohol can cause everything from liver problems, weight gain, and reduced fertility, to alcoholism, high blood pressure and risk of heart attack. There’s a reason why men are advised to drink no more than three to four units per day, and women advised to drink no more than two to three units per day…

Luckily though, our Health of the Nation survey respondents seem to have got the message, and are indulging far less than in years past. On average, male respondents report drinking around 13.6 units of alcohol per week, while female respondents report drinking around 8.4 units per week – both below the recommended amounts for men and women.

Heavier drinkers seem to be more prevalent in the north east of the country, where respondents drink an average of 13.1 units of alcohol per week. Next up is Yorkshire, with an average alcohol consumption of 11.6 units per week, followed by London, with 10 units per week. We must admit we were quite surprised by the latter given how bustling and stressful London can be.

When we dug deeper into our survey results, we also found that people in the north east are the UK’s biggest drinkers, with 18% admitting to drinking more than thirty-five units of alcohol per week! Those who live in both the South West and Wales, on the other hand, are most likely to be tee-total, with 42% and 40% respectively consuming no units at all. In fact, most of our respondents actually thought that the established national health guidelines are stricter than they actually are, with 23% estimating that we should only be drinking one to seven units of alcohol per week.

Going up in smoke?

Smoking also now seems to follow the same vein as alcohol consumption, with 72% of UK residents now classing themselves as non-smokers. Even our male respondents who do smoke only smoke an average of 3.8 cigarettes per day, while female respondents smoke 3.3. When health guidelines recommend not smoking any cigarettes at all, these are encouraging results.

Some areas of the UK are abstaining more strongly than others though. While 78% of those in the South West class themselves as non-smokers, Scottish respondents average 4.3 cigarettes per day. People in the North West came in at a close second, with 3.9 cigarettes per day, while those in the South East smoke around 3.6 cigarettes per day.

When smoking can cause debilitating health issues like cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and emphysema (among other things), these survey results are very encouraging indeed.

It appears as though most of our respondents can see the benefits of cutting down on cigarettes and alcohol, and are in agreement with established national health guidelines. So why are we still practising these bad habits at all? One reason could be that we simply don’t realise just how many units of alcohol are in our drinks, or that many people find it too difficult to stop smoking.

It can be done though, which is why we have put together some helpful content highlighting just how many units are in your favourite tipples, and helpful ways in which you can stop smoking. Check back soon!

Sources:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Effectsofalcohol.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2344.aspx?CategoryID=53

 

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