Although there are many causes of liver disease, drinking alcohol to excess is the leading cause of liver disease and liver cancer in the UK.
To help prevent alcohol-related liver disease, Government guidelines recommend we drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, and have two or three consecutive days without any alcohol. Choosing drinks with no or low alcohol content is one of the ways people can cut down on their weekly intake.
Although the market for alcohol-free and low-alcohol drinks (‘NoLo drinks’) has seen significant growth in recent years, it still accounts for a very low share of the market for alcoholic drinks. The British Liver Trust has contributed to a study by Alcohol Change UK, which looked into the relationship between these types of drink and alcohol-related harm.
The report finds that 4 in 10 adults who have consumed a NoLo drink have cut down on their overall alcohol intake, but a similar percentage say their intake is unchanged, revealing that the Government’s plan to proliferate the use of NoLo products to tackle alcohol-related harms is likely to be insufficient.
Not a standalone solution
Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy and Communications at the British Liver Trust, says: “Consuming NoLo drinks will help some people cut down their alcohol intake, but they’re not a standalone solution to preventing alcohol harm.
“We’re calling for the Government to urgently adopt joined up public health measures across the UK that include addressing the affordability of alcohol through taxation, such as by creating a minimum unit price, and putting in place stronger controls on the marketing and labelling of alcohol.
“This is more important than ever before, as there is evidence that people have been drinking more alcohol during lockdown. We are really concerned that we will be faced with an epidemic of liver disease as a result.”