Scientists today drew flak for pushing the idea that pubs and bars should consider scrapping large wine glasses.

University of Cambridge experts suggested that stopping Brits from being able to order 250ml measures of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot would help to cut alcohol consumption.

They based this on a trial involving 21 pubs and bars, which found that removing the biggest serving of red and white from their menu reduced wine sales by about 8 per cent.

Removing the 250ml option didn’t effect revenue either because of the higher profit-margin on 125ml and 175ml servings. 

But customers were disgruntled by the study, with managers at four premises receiving complaints about not offering a 250ml measure.

But a similar experiment to replace pints with a ‘two-thirds’ measure failed as no pub or bar — out of almost 2,000 contacted — was willing to indulge the experts’ request and face the fury of their regulars.

Thinktanks and industry groups say Brits should be encouraged to drink responsibly.

However, Maxwell Marlow, director of research at the neoliberal thinktank the Adam Smith Institute, said: ‘This study is as airy as a poorly pulled pint.’

‘A sample size of only 21 sites over a year provides no statistically significant insights into the wider hospitality sector and alcohol consumption.

‘Public health officials should trust in the knowledge and insights of the hospitality sector instead.’

So how much is TOO much? 

NHS recommendations state adults shouldn’t drink more than 14 units each week. 

That’s 14 single shots of spirit or six pints of beer or a bottle and a half of wine.

They should also spread their drinking over three or more days to avoid bingeing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises Americans do not drink more than 14 standard alcohol drinks per week for men and seven for women.

A standard alcoholic drink includes 12oz of 5 per cent beer, 8oz of 7 per cent malt liqour, 5oz of 12 per cent wine or 1.5oz of spirits including rum, gin, vodka or whiskey.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over many years is already linked to a plethora of health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke risk, and range of cancers.

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, a right-wing thinktank, said wine drinkers would be ones paying the price for such a measure. 

He said: ‘The researchers acknowledge wine drinkers ended up spending the same amount of money on less wine, but they portray this as a good thing. 

‘They even suggest that the government should ban 250ml glasses. 

‘To be clear, getting more for your money is a good thing. If pubs think they can maximise profits by not using large glasses, that is up to them.’

Matt Lambert, chief executive of the Portman Group the industry funded regulator for alcohol labelling, packaging and promotion in the UK, said drinkers should not have their choices restricted. 

He said: ‘It’s worth remembering that the majority of UK adults already either don’t drink or drink within the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended low risk guidelines.’

‘Whilst we are vocally supportive of measures to increase moderation among drinkers, there should be more efforts to increase consumer choice in this area rather than to unnecessarily restrict it – for instance the wider availability of 125ml glasses of wine and of lower strength alternatives.’

Brits have been told to drink less for years due to how alcohol damages their health.

Studies conclusively show that drinking too much damages organs like the brain, heart and liver and causes a subsequent risk of problems like high blood pressure, cancer and obesity.

The NHS advises Brits not to drink more than 14 units per week on a regular basis, the equivalent of six pints of mid-strength beer or six medium glasses of wine.

A recent analysis tracking the UK’s drinking habits over time shows how wine has become the nation’s favourite tipple, with the average Brit now drinking 37 bottles each year. 

In the study, Cambridge researchers removed the 250ml serving, leaving just the 125ml and 175ml at 21 premises — mainly pubs — for four weeks, in stages between 2021 and 2022. 

Researchers wanted to examine if the 250ml measure, which only became popular in the UK in the 90s, encouraged drinkers to consume more wine.

Results published in the journal Plos Medicine showed removing the largest serving of wine at the premises — in most cases the 250ml option — reduced sales by 7.6 per cent, an average decrease of 420ml of wine sold per day per venue.

Latest data, gathered by the World Health Organization and compiled by Oxford University-backed platform Our World in Data, shows the UK's wine consumption has soared to 3.3 litres of pure alcohol annually (2019), up on the 0.3 litres recorded almost 60 years earlier in 1961. It now accounts for over a third (33.7 per cent) of all alcohol consumed across the country and sits almost level with beer (36 per cent) which has plummeted from the 5.8 litres logged in 1961 to 3.5 litres today

Latest data, gathered by the World Health Organization and compiled by Oxford University-backed platform Our World in Data, shows the UK’s wine consumption has soared to 3.3 litres of pure alcohol annually (2019), up on the 0.3 litres recorded almost 60 years earlier in 1961. It now accounts for over a third (33.7 per cent) of all alcohol consumed across the country and sits almost level with beer (36 per cent) which has plummeted from the 5.8 litres logged in 1961 to 3.5 litres today

The NHS recommends people drink no more than 14 'units' of alcohol ¿ around six glasses of wine, or pints of beer ¿ per week. This itself has been watered down over the past few decades in light of studies illustrating the health dangers of alcohol

The NHS recommends people drink no more than 14 ‘units’ of alcohol — around six glasses of wine, or pints of beer — per week. This itself has been watered down over the past few decades in light of studies illustrating the health dangers of alcohol 

And there was no sign of a bump in sales of beer and cider when wine serving sizes were reduced, suggesting drinkers weren’t turning to other options to compensate. 

The authors said that, while only having a modest impact, such a measure could nudge Brits to drink less and improve their health. 

There was also no evidence that it affected publicans’ revenue, perhaps due to the higher profit margins put on smaller glasses of wine. 

But publicans didn’t get off completely scot-free. Managers at four of the 21 premises in the study received complaints from customers about not offering a larger wine serving. 

First author Dr Eleni Mantzari said: ‘It looks like when the largest serving size of wine by the glass was unavailable, people shifted towards the smaller options, but didn’t then drink the equivalent amount of wine.

‘People tend to consume a specific number of “units” – in this case glasses – regardless of portion size.

‘So, someone might decide at the outset they’ll limit themselves to a couple of glasses of wine, and with less alcohol in each glass they drink less overall.’

According to the researchers, given there was no evidence removing large servings of wine resulted in a loss in revenue, a nationwide policy would likely only be resisted by the alcohol industry given its potential to reduce sales of targeted drinks.

According to OECD data released last year, nearly one in five adults reported binge drinking at least once a month, on average across 29 OECD countries in 2019. The figure varies 10-fold, from less than 3 per cent in Turkey to more than 30 per cent in Germany, Luxembourg, the UK and Denmark

According to OECD data released last year, nearly one in five adults reported binge drinking at least once a month, on average across 29 OECD countries in 2019. The figure varies 10-fold, from less than 3 per cent in Turkey to more than 30 per cent in Germany, Luxembourg, the UK and Denmark

They added public support for such a policy would depend on its effectiveness and how clearly this was communicated.

Professor Dame Theresa Marteau, the study’s senior author and member of the Government’s advisory group SAGE, said: ‘It’s worth remembering that no level of alcohol consumption is considered safe for health, with even light consumption contributing to the development of many cancers.

‘Although the reduction in the amount of wine sold at each premises was relatively small, even a small reduction could make a meaningful contribution to population health.’

However, their paper reveals the scientists would like to go even further in their attempts to subtly curb the nation’s drinking habits.

They state they also tried to perform a similar experiment on beer, replacing the standard 568ml pint with a smaller two-thirds of a pint, measure. 

But the study failed due to no publican out of the 2,000 contacted being willing to indulge them, and potentially facing the ire of their regulars. 

The study authors wrote: ‘We attempted to conduct such a study to estimate the impact of removing the largest serving size for beer—usually a pint (568 ml)—and replacing it with a two-thirds measure, but were unable to find any pubs, bars, or restaurants willing to do this from almost 2,000 contacted. 

‘This likely reflects that the pint has been the customary serving size for beer in the UK for centuries.’

Nanny-state style measures, like putting tobacco-style health warnings on drink packaging, have been proposed by scientists before. 

But an analysis on Scotland’s ban on cheap booze, brought in in 2018 to reduce alcohol-related harms on health, crime and social issues, suggests such measures can fail.

Thinktank the IEA found the policy had had little positive impact on employment, crime and health despite slightly reducing alcohol consumption levels. 

It also cost drinkers in Scotland an average of £71.12 per head.

DO YOU DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL? THE 10 QUESTIONS THAT REVEAL YOUR RISK

One screening tool used widely by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tests). Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, the 10-question test is considered to be the gold standard in helping to determine if someone has alcohol abuse problems.

The test has been reproduced here with permission from the WHO.

To complete it, answer each question and note down the corresponding score.

YOUR SCORE:

0-7: You are within the sensible drinking range and have a low risk of alcohol-related problems.

Over 8: Indicate harmful or hazardous drinking.

8-15: Medium level of risk. Drinking at your current level puts you at risk of developing problems with your health and life in general, such as work and relationships. Consider cutting down (see below for tips).

16-19: Higher risk of complications from alcohol. Cutting back on your own may be difficult at this level, as you may be dependent, so you may need professional help from your GP and/or a counsellor.

20 and over: Possible dependence. Your drinking is already causing you problems, and you could very well be dependent. You should definitely consider stopping gradually or at least reduce your drinking. You should seek professional help to ascertain the level of your dependence and the safest way to withdraw from alcohol.

Severe dependence may need medically assisted withdrawal, or detox, in a hospital or a specialist clinic. This is due to the likelihood of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the first 48 hours needing specialist treatment.

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