I have become so jaundiced in my view of the honesty of politicians that I react to every official pronouncement with an attempt to contradicy it and/ or identify its ulterior motive.
The most recent pronouncement is that alcoholic drinks make you fat and some quango has recommended that all labels should carry the calorific content.
I was already suspicious of the anti-alcohol lobby, because of the artificially derived “alcohol units” of recommended daily consumption.
I waded through the original report on which these units were based and found lots of survey results of people’s opinions and lots of posited deletrious effects but apart from the actual problems of alcohol dependency and cirrhosis of the liver, there was no factual content on which to base this unit guide.
As if to verify my own conclusions, the author of the report admitted in a radio interview that he had plucked the guidelines out of thin air in the sense that having asked to set guidelines, he and his team had put down what they deemed to be reasonable values.
There was a hurried follow up report, which substantiated a new set of values “based on a better analysis of facts”!!!!
To date I have not met any definitive guide on how much alcohol intake you need , in order to develop cirrhosis of the liver.
The only sound evidence that I’ve come across of alcohol damage is research that some people, e.g. George Best, are genetically disposed towards alcoholism.
I have read no data on what fraction of the population has the relevant gene but it appears to be quite small as such people usually show the same tendencies as those addicted to Heroin. In George Best’s case his death was down to liver damage(after having been given a donated liver to replace his own damaged liver).
The evidence seems to be that the problem with alcohol, for most of us, is either drunken mishaps, such as driving into a brick wall, or excessive consumption. The only evidential basis of that seems to be the high incidence of Cirrhosis in Frenchmen, who spend their days imbibing glass upon glass of red wine in Cafe’s. An example of Gerard Depardieu, who owns his own vineyard and sucks down 3 bottles of wine a day (although recently claimed it was 14) and is still alive and active, despite a huge paunch.
In fact my own suspicion is that this condemnation of alcohol is more to do with keeping down NHS and police costs for dealing with drunks and injuries caused by drunken behaviour, rather than concern for their physical well being.
That point about Depardieu’s obesity would seem to contradict my original attack on those whingeing about the calorific value of alcohol, so before I argue that point, I would add that a consequence of boozing is eating; hence the existence of kebab shops and other late night eateries dispensing similar starch and grease laden products.
Why so antagonistic towards the calorific value of alcohol?
Start with how the calorific value is obtained.
You burn alcohol and measure the amount of heat energy that is produced. The units of heat energy is measured in calories (same as on your Gas bill).
The alcohol is converted totally into Carbon Dioxide and water.
This is not what happens in your body, which only partly oxidises it. It does so in two stages; first to acetaldehyde, second to acetic acid.
A lot of the acetaldehyde is breathed out and this what the breathalyser tests for. The acetic acid is more commonly known as vinegar. I don’t know what the calorific values of alcohol and acetic acid are but it is the difference in these two which is the energy gained by your body.
So the figures for calorific value are not strictly applicable.
The acetic acid (vinegar, same as you liberally sprinkle on your greasy fish and chips) does slow down the metabolising of fats, so they linger longer in your body but you could cut down on eating such fatty foods.
I shan’t be reading the calorific values on bottles of wine. I shan’t be calculating how many British units (different nations have different guessed at guidelines) of alcohol I consume.
I shan’t be buying a bike, so I can play dodgems with white van man on our heavily congested roads. I shan’t be voting for any of the “traditional” political parties. I shan’t be switching off lights, when I leave a room for a few minutes. I shan’t be taking notice of any of the myriad other admonitions coming my way, from people without the brains to formulate their own opinions and who want to try to impose their ill-contrived convictions on other’s.