Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Excessive drinking is bad. Who knew?

The British like to drink. A lot. Or at least that's what people say. It's just one of those stereotypes that came about because it was like, true, or something. As one British friend told me, the Brits who don't like to drink went to America centuries ago. It's not as though Americans don't drink, it's just not as widely accepted that the only way to have a good night out is to drink enough to forget where you are, who you are, and how to make your legs work.

So today a lot of UK papers ran stories about how it's not just lower-income people who pound back the pints, but the middle-class do it too (gasp!). They do it with wine, but they're still tipping a bottle back a bit more than experts recommend is wise.

Is this really shocking news? The heavy drinking culture seems like a source of national pride more than a cause for concern to some people. Seriously, commentaries scoffed at any warnings about excessive alcohol consumption. What, tell us alcohol is bad? How dare you! There are other problems out there, so just ignore this one, OK?

Some said it was just another case of the government telling you what to do. I don't agree. The government would be telling you what to do if they banned alcohol or if they sent people to your door to get all up in your business and see what you're drinking and chastising you for it. But merely warning the public of a problem is more of an obligation than an intrusion.

People don't want to hear that what they like is harmful, but they need to know so they can at least try to make informed decisions. Americans may not want to hear that they should eat a healthy diet and exercise more, but it's important that they know, even if too many fail to act on that knowledge (a problem Britain is sharing more and more).

If you want to ignore the warnings, go ahead and do what you want. It's just a guide, a bit of advice. Few of us make the perfect, healthy choice all the time. Do what you will; I'm just saying burying your head in the sand doesn't make everything all better. Although, ironically, a few glasses of wine might make it seem all better ... hmm, there's a dilemma.

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