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LiveLighter empowers Victorians to cut back on alcohol for better health

09/01/2024

The LiveLighter® program delivered by Cancer Council Victoria is sharing expert tips to help Victorians confidently reduce their alcohol intake to boost their health in 2024.

Data from the annual Shape of Australia survey found 1 in 6 (16.8%) Victorian adults do not know that alcohol intake increases the risk of cancer. Nearly 1 in 10 (9.3%) are not aware of the link between alcohol consumption and weight gain.

Meanwhile, almost 1 in 5 (18.1%) Victorian adults surveyed feel only slightly or not at all confident to reduce their alcohol intake as part of efforts to eat healthier.

LiveLighter® Victoria’s Accredited Practising Dietitian, Alison McAleese said that scaling back on alcohol can help improve health and lower cancer risk, and the new year is a golden opportunity to kick-start healthy habits.

“Cutting back on alcohol as part of a New Year’s resolution can do wonders for your mood, sleep and energy levels. Changing our drinking habits can also help reduce risk of serious health issues in the long-run, including some cancers, heart disease, liver disease and stroke.”

“Beyond these benefits, decreasing how much you drink can also help you maintain a healthy weight, as alcoholic drinks tend to be high in kilojoules but don’t leave us feeling full in the same way food does.”

“It may take you by surprise, but alcohol is the largest source of extra energy in adult’s diets and some alcoholic drinks can contain as many kilojoules as some popular junk foods. For example, two glasses of sparkling wine can contain as much energy as a slice of pizza and two bottles of cider can contain as much as a burger.”

If you're aiming to dial down your alcohol intake in 2024 for better health, Ms McAleese recommends starting out with setting a couple of small, achievable goals.

“As we celebrate over summer, aim to start 2024 with being more mindful about which social occasions you drink at or having set ‘no alcohol’ days. If choosing to drink, research shows that setting a clear limit and counting your drinks can go a long way.”

“At your next event, why not try a non-alcoholic alternative in place of your usual? These options can provide the familiarity of a drink-in-hand at social events but won’t leave you with that nasty hangover the next day either!”

For those who choose to drink but are mindful of the health effects, Ms McAleese suggests exploring low-alcohol alternatives.

“The lower the alcohol content, usually the better for your health. But where possible, try reading the label as the amount of kilojoules and sugar can vary a lot between options."

“For dinner parties or a healthy treat at home, check out the LiveLighter® website for delicious, non-alcoholic drink recipes, or try jazzing up sparkling water with some citrus, berries or herbs for a refreshing, kilojoule-free alternative.”

When making plans this year, Ms McAleese suggests trying to mix things up with social activities that don't centre around alcohol.

“Alcohol can sometimes feel like a large part of the social culture in Australia – especially around big celebrations. But remember there are plenty of fun, refreshing ways to connect with friends and loved ones minus alcohol."

“Whether it's hitting the bowling lanes, a walk in the park, grabbing a coffee, or going to the beach, try suggesting more activities that don’t involve alcohol in 2024. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much more energised you feel as a result!”

For free resources, healthy recipes, meal plans, and information to help you eat better, move more and reduce your alcohol intake, visit www.livelighter.org.au

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About the research

The annual Shape of Australia has been coordinated by Cancer Council Victoria since 2020, with significant contributions from Cancer Council Western Australia. Data collection occurred via an online survey between September 9th and 23rd, 2022. In total, 2,671 respondents aged 18-65 were surveyed, inclusive of 576 Victorians.

Citation: Ilchenko E, Morley B. Shape of Australia 2022 Survey: Final Report. Melbourne, Australia: Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria. Prepared for Cancer Council Victoria and Cancer Council Western Australia; 2023 Feb.