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Why alcohol can cause more than just weight gain

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For most Australians, the Christmas holiday period means an endless round of catch-ups, seasonal parties and festive gatherings, all washed down with a steady stream of alcoholic beverages.

Health professionals and organisations face an increasingly difficult battle at this time of year, getting the message through about the side effects of excessive alcohol consumption and its link to injury and illness.

Perhaps more effective are the warnings linking excessive alcohol consumption to obesity and weight gain.

Many Australians are unaware of the hidden kilojoules in every drink they consume and the impact it has on their weight and overall health.

Did you know that some popular alcoholic drinks contain over 1,000kJs? That’s similar to a slice of take-away pizza or a Mars Bar!

Consuming two to four of these drinks during a night out can quickly add up and account for 50% of your daily energy intake.

Premix spirits have been identified as the worst for your waistline, while beer, wine and cider are also big offenders.

With Christmas parties, family gatherings and Sundays Sessions being staples in the West Australian social calendar at this time of year, it is sometimes difficult to avoid alcohol at social events.

However limiting your intake will reduce your risk of injury, chronic disease and weight-gain.

Alcohol and injury

Alcohol use and misuse is a risk factor for a multitude of injury types including; falls, road trauma, drowning, violence, suicide and self-harm and poisoning.

The short-term impacts of alcohol on your reaction time, reasoning, co-ordination, care and judgement increase the risk of incidents and injuries occurring.

Alcohol also effects an individual’s self-control, impulsivity and ability to resolve conflicts in a non-violent manner and thus is often a contributing factor for violent crime and domestic violence.

High-level alcohol consumption is also a major risk factor for suicide and suicidal behaviour among young people and adults. The association between alcohol misuse and suicide is particularly strong among teenagers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There is a three-fold increase of injury for males and eight-fold increase for females associated with drinking four or more drinks on any one occasion.

Alcohol and chronic disease

Alcohol consumption, particularly at high levels, can increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 Diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

Alcohol consumption at any level increases cancer risk and may also contribute to the development of chronic disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and being overweight or obese.

So by all means enjoy the festive season with friends and family, but do your body and mind a favour and practice moderation.

To find out how many kilojoules are in popular drinks available in West Australia visit Cut Your Cancer Risk here.

For more information about alcohol and injury visit The Right Mix here: https://www.therightmix.gov.au/factsheets

For more information about alcohol and chronic disease read the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance Alcohol and Chronic Disease Prevention Position Statement here: http://www.cancer.org.au/content/pdf/ACDPA/110930-Final-ACDPA-PS-Alcohol-and-Chronic-Disease-Prevention.pdf