What’s the damage? Negative health consequences of alcohol misuse in Wales

English | Cymraeg

24 May 2010

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Note: This report was funded and/or written by our predecessor organisation Alcohol Concern.

Executive summary

Regularly drinking alcohol above recommended guidelines significantly increases risk to long-term health. Studies show that alcohol is linked to more than 60 disease conditions, including liver disease and mouth, food pipe, bowel and breast cancer. It is responsible for around 1,000 deaths each year in Wales.

Alcohol Concern has been keen to find out the levels of awareness and understanding amongst the Welsh public about the health risks that alcohol misuse poses. We commissioned a telephone survey of 1,000 drinkers in Wales in February 2010, asking questions about unit and calorific content of drinks, and the health implications of excessive consumption.

Our survey indicates that many people in Wales remain unaware of the dangers of alcohol misuse and the unit and calorific content of individual drinks. Around half of the respondents stated that they did not know the recommended daily maximum number of units for a man and a woman; more than half of the respondents were unable to correctly recall the number of units in either a standard pint of beer/lager and standard glass of wine; over 80 per cent were unable to correctly identify the number of calories in a standard pint of beer/lager and standard glass of wine; and around 78 per cent failed to identify the link between alcohol and cancer.

In addition, despite a significant growth in consumption levels in Wales over the last 50 years and the rising number of hospital admissions and deaths as a direct result of alcohol misuse, more than three quarters of respondents to our survey stated that they are rarely or never concerned about the amount of alcohol they consume.

It is clear that more work needs to be done to inform the public about unit and calorific content of drinks, the recommended drinking guidelines and the risks to health of excessive consumption.

This report sets out key recommendations for action.