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New phone app is latest weapon to cut female drinking

WOMEN are being encouraged to "drop a glass size" this year as part of an alcohol awareness campaign being launched by ministers.

FACE IT: The smartphone app lets women hold up a mirror to their drinking
FACE IT: The smartphone app lets women hold up a mirror to their drinking

The initiative aims to make women think about how much they drink and how it will impact on their looks and feelings.

A national roadshow will tour the country raising awareness of the issue, and a free "drinking mirror" smartphone app has also been developed to show people the shocking effects of regularly drinking too much.

At its launch, Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "Evidence shows us most people who drink alcohol, particularly at home, have no idea of how much they are actually consuming.

"This campaign will show people how small changes to their drinking habits can have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing."

Latest figures show 38% of women regularly exceed daily or weekly sensible drinking guidelines, by consuming more than two to three units a day, or 14 units a week.

The number of alcohol-related deaths among women aged 30 to 44 has doubled in the past 20 years – from 43 in 1992 to 77 in 2011 – and the chronic liver disease and cirrhosis death rate among 30 to 44-year-old women has trebled since the mid to late-1980s.

Mr Neil added: "Scotland has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and much has been done in the last five years to address this.

"Our alcohol framework outlined a package of more than 40 measures to reduce alcohol-related harm. We have made considerable progress including banning quantity discounts, restricting promotions on off-sales and working to introduce a Minimum Pricing Bill.

"Alongside educational efforts such as this campaign, we will work to ensure that people drink less and that we become a healthier Scotland."

The campaign encourages women to make small changes, such as alternating alcohol with soft drinks or water and having two alcohol-free days a week, which the Government claims can lead to big health improvements.

The roadshow will feature three different-sized wine glasses to illustrate the "drop a glass size" theme and show women that by choosing to have a smaller glass, they could see a big difference in their health and wellbeing.

The smartphone app is available free until the end of March and will show users that cutting down a glass size can also have a significant impact on the ageing process.

Dr Samantha Robson, GP, said: "Alcohol undoubtedly has an effect on our appearance in the short and long-term. As well as causing bloating and dark circles under your eyes, alcohol dries out skin and can lead to wrinkles and premature aging.

"Many people forget that alcohol also affects their sleep, which doesn't do skin any favours. But drinking more than you should over time can have other, more permanent, detrimental effects on your skin and more importantly your overall health.

"By cutting down a glass size, or having a break some nights, the result could make a huge difference to how they look and feel."

l For more information visit www.drinksmarter.org.

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