Researchers have found an effective way to get people to reduce their drinking: highlight the cancer risk that comes with it and pair it with counting each drink.
This unique combination of ‘why to lose weight’ and ‘how to lose weight’ messaging could be useful for promoting health in the population, the 2021 study team said.
Binge drinking doesn’t just lead to it. Cancer, of course. Overdosing on the boza has been linked to many problems, including premature death, heart disease, digestive problems and dementia.
“We found that combining information about alcohol and cancer with a different practical measure—counting their drinks—led drinkers to reduce their alcohol intake.” According to economist and psychologist Simon Pettigrew From George Global Health Institute.
Three surveys were completed for the study: 7,995 people completed the first, 4,588 people completed the second three weeks later, and 2,687 people completed the final survey three weeks later. The participants were divided into different groups and showed different advertisements and messages about drinking.
Compared to a control group, one combination stood out: a TV ad linking alcohol and cancer, along with a suggestion to cut back on your drinks, was one of the most effective at getting people to try and cut down on alcohol.
It was also the only combination in which people significantly reduced their alcohol consumption over six weeks.
Other approaches—encouraging people to decide on several drinks and then stick with them—prompted some volunteers to try and cut back, but there was a clear winner based on the people who took part in this study.
“Most people don’t know that alcohol is a carcinogen.” said Pettigrew. “It’s important information for drinkers to get. But telling people alcohol is only part of the solution to cancer – we need to give them ways to take action to reduce their risk.”
Alcohol consumption may be associated with 7 percent of premature deaths worldwide. According to the World Health OrganizationAnd making drinkers more aware of health risks is one way to address the problem.
While health agencies look at ways to make alcohol less available and more expensive, ultimately personal preferences will determine whether attitudes around alcohol change in the long run.
In this particular study, the participants were chosen to be “representative of the Australian drinking population at large”, so it’s not an approach that works elsewhere – but it might be an option to try if you want to count what you drink. cut off.
“Resources for alcohol harm reduction campaigns are limited, so it’s important to know which messages resonate best to ensure they have the best chance of working.” said Pettigrew.
The study was published in Addictive properties.
An earlier version of this article was first published in June 2021.