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Research finds men underestimate the health risks from heavy drinking
New research from health promotion foundation VicHealth and Monash University has found Victorian men are underestimating the harm from heavy drinking, with some believing the health risks only begin at 30 drinks per session.
The findings have prompted VicHealth to announce $500,000 in new funding to try to change the way groups of men think about alcohol. The funding will be available for organisations who wish to change male risky drinking cultures in their communities.
The study into masculine drinking cultures was prompted by a VicHealth survey that found 40% of Victorian men regularly drink more than four standard alcoholic drinks in a session, putting themselves at risk of injury and diseases like cancer and stroke.
Yet the study found most men interviewed believed risky drinking meant downing anywhere between 10-30 drinks, with a small minority stating no amount of alcohol was too risky.
With Australian men at higher risk from alcohol than women, the study looked at what influences groups of men to drink, highlighting the drinking culture among sports players and supporters, hospitality and office workers. It found:
• 59% of the men surveyed said they had more than five drinks in one session weekly with 38% having more than 11 drinks in one session monthly
• While risky drinking was highly prevalent amongst all sub-groups hospitality workers had the highest rates of risky drinking attributed to access to free drinks and the perceived necessity for winding down post-work
• Alcohol was described by the men as a way of ‘opening-up’ to each other and many felt they couldn’t socialise without drinking – even with close mates
• Men described their drinking as autonomous yet were observed to be heavily influenced by other men in the group through round buying, being pressured to drink or making fun of those who chose ‘fruity’ drinks with lower alcohol content
• Men were very hesitant to step in and intervene to help a mate who was drinking heavily unless he was trying to drive or drunk to the point of being completely incapacitated
• Men described ‘inheriting’ drinking behaviours from their fathers and drinking being central to being an Australian man
• Men were uncomfortable about the Australian drinking culture but felt powerless to change it.
Parliamentary Secretary for Health Anthony Carbines said it was important men felt like they had other options to socialise beyond drinking alcohol, advising "it’s concerning that some Victorian men feel like the only way they can connect with their friends or express their masculinity is through drinking."
VicHealth’s Men’s Risky Drinking grants are open now and will close 9am Monday 8th April. Applicants can apply for up to $150,000 in funding for a two year project.
To find out more go to www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/funding/mens-risky-drinking-grants
7th February 2019 - VicHealth grants to encourage community sport programs
30th January 2019 - VicHealth research considers the effectiveness of health and wellbeing apps
6th December 2018 - Health promotion efforts lauded at VicHealth Awards
16th September 2018 - Research group launches campaign to end alcohol advertising in sport
17th September 2016 - Exercise offsets some of the cancer and mortality risks associated with alcohol
5th April 2016 - Report says Australia is losing the war on obesity and alcohol
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