Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Start to 2013

As it's recently been New Year and Christmas (and I haven't posted for a while!) I thought I'd do a story based on alcohol, and whilst we are having a post about alcohol, why not tie in smoking too.

The BBC reported on January 2nd that "alcohol calories 'too often ignored'"...."people watching their weight should pay closer attention to how much alcohol they drink since it is second only to fat in terms of calorie content [reported by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)]. Eating or drinking too many calories on a regular basis can lead to weight gain. Unlike food, alcoholic drinks have very little or no nutritional value" (

An interesting calorie calculator was embedded in the report ( showing the number of calories consumed with certain drinks, how many chocolate digestive biscuits that equated to and then how many minutes of brisk walking it would take to walk off that number of calories. As an example 2 standard glasses of wine equates to 3 chocolate biscuits in terms of calorie content and 52 minutes of brisk walking to burn those 248 calories off.

I also found an abstract for a study entitled "Alcohol consumption, nutrient intake and relative body weight among US adults" at ( The study showed that  "drinkers had significantly higher intakes of total calories than non-drinkers, but only because of their intakes of alcoholic calories. Among drinkers, the intakes of non-alcoholic calories decreased as alcohol intakes increased, and it was estimated that between 15 and 41% of the alcoholic calories replaced non-alcoholic calories. Despite their higher caloric intakes, drinkers were not more obese than non-drinkers." It was therefore "suggested that alcoholic calories may be less efficiently utilized than non-alcoholic calories, or may interfere with utilization of non-alcoholic calories."

The smoking story was about research (carried out by the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Kings College London) that challenged the "widely held belief that giving up smoking makes you more edgy and that smoking [itself] relieves stress". The story was run on the BBC, Medical News Today and also in The WEEK (Issue 902). On the Medical News Today website ( the following quote from researchers on the project was used. The researchers wrote:
"The belief that smoking is stress relieving is pervasive, but almost certainly wrong. The reverse is true: smoking is probably anxiogenic (causes anxiety) and smokers deserve to know this and understand how their own experience may be misleading."
"The researchers recruited 491 smokers who attended NHS smoking clinics, and tested their anxiety levels...when their anxiety levels were tested again, the quitters were found to have reduced their anxiety by nine points on average, whereas those who had failed to quit were feeling more anxious: their levels had increased three points" (The WEEK).
"The decrease in anxiety was particularly noticeable among the ex-smokers who used to smoke "to cope", compared to those who used to smoke "for pleasure" (Medical News Today article: above).
The researchers concluded saying "stopping smoking probably reduces anxiety and the effect is probably larger in those who have a psychiatric disorder and who smoke to cope with stress" (MNT article).


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