Friday, 9 March 2012

The Health Lobby - More drivel in The Press

Most of the papers have been running stories today stating that people over 45 are more likely to drink every day than younger alcohol drinkers according to statistics. They all report this in a negative light, following on from the medical advice that we should refrain from alcohol on at least two days a week. It is interesting to see the pseudo-facts and mis-interpretation of the findings that they print.

The Independent, as one would expect, reports the statistics responsibly until the final few paragraphs:

'Experts recommend three alcohol-free days a week' the paper pronounces. Who are these 'experts'? The Indy doesn't tell us. Plus hang on a minute. It was only recently that they recommended two days a week off booze. At this rate we'll all be told to become teetotal by Easter.

They go on to quote Professor Tony Ray, a consultant in old-age psychiatry. 'This is such a hidden problem-older people drink behind closed doors. There are a variety of problems but they are usually below the radar because they do not involve death or liver disease.' It doesn't sound such a big problem to me.

My local rag the 'Liverpool Echo' trails the headline 'Over 45's Drink More Alcohol.' What does this mean?  Does it mean they all had a drink one night and then decided to risk a second? Do they drink more than they used to? Is it meant to say that they drink more than the under 45's? Nothing in the article substantiates the latter two conclusions. Someone aged over 45 drinking a couple of pints or glasses of wine every night isn't necessarily drinking more than the teenager who binge drinks at weekends. Also if they've been drinking those couple of pints every night for last ten years then they haven't increased their consumption either and indeed quite possibly may have reduced their consumption over time.

But these articles are all part of the softening up process.


  1. "But these articles are all part of the softening up process."

    Indeed, it's stealthily shifting the terms of the debate and changing perceptions of what is normal.

  2. I agree with you and Curmudgeon, but I think there's another factor here. I found in my union days that, if I wrote a press release like a newspaper article, copying their style and putting in only what they might publish, they usually printed it as it was without any checks, which might explain why you find almost identical articles in unrelated newspapers. I'm sure the anti-alcoholics have discovered this.