Drinking habits of Kiwis over 50 don’t look so good

Morning Talk 12/01/2018
Photo: Getty.

New Zealanders 50 and over are drinking more excessively and frequently than adults in other countries.

According to Massey University, Kiwis who are 50+ are the second highest consumers of alcohol when compared with eight other countries,

Stephen McIvor is joined by Professor Doug Sellman, director Of the National Addiction Centre, University of Otago Christchurch and Alcohol Action NZ spokesperson, to discuss excessive drinking among Kiwis over 50.

“We certainly do have an alcohol problem as a country,” he says.

Massey University’s report looked at data from more than 3000 New Zealanders and tens of thousands of people from all around the world.

Kiwis were behind only England when it came to consumption of alcohol in the 50+ demographic.

The alcohol industry controls New Zealand.

He explains that price, accessibility and marketing of alcohol are the factors that will actually help reduce drinking behaviour in New Zealand.

Weekly earnings in the past 20 years have risen by 82 per cent while alcohol prices have risen by 76 per cent, according to a 2015 report from the Law Commission.

New Zealanders spent an estimated $4 to $5 billion in 2008 on retail alcohol sales – roughly $85 million per week.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer was previously candid about the alcohol industry, urging New Zealand to address the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of alcohol.

“If you’re not drinking, there’s something wrong with you,” he explains. “That’s the message the alcohol industry continues to put out there through their marketing.”

Prof Sellman’s bottom line? The best way to reduce drinking is to “actually eliminate alcohol marketing.”“The relative risk for developing cancer begins at less than one standard drink a day,” says Prof Sellman.

Health consequences

According to Alcohol.org.nz, alcohol can cause a variety of health conditions when drunk regularly over time and/or drunk in a pattern of heavy single drinking sessions. This includes alcoholic liver disease and a variety of cancers, including breast cancer.

On a positive note, Mr Sellman says that more people approaching their 50s are starting to reconsider their health and lifestyle.

 “A lot more people are realising the connection between alcohol and cancer,” says Prof Sellman. 

Listen to the full interview with Doug Sellman above.

Summer Morning Talk with Stephen McIvor, weekdays from 9am-noon on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the ROVA app on Android and iPhone.