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Don’t believe everything you read

Posted April 6, 2012 | 10:31 pm, by Mirella

I just read this article online about a study that attributes “60% of deaths in Ontario” to “5 unhealthy habits” and I am very annoyed. Why is it that people in the media seems bent on making beer seem unhealthy?

This article annoyed me for two reasons. The first is the way that the author lumped drinking in with smoking, stress, bad diet and lack of exercise, calling them all “unhealthy habits”. This is not right. Unlike smoking, stress, bad diet and lack of exercise, which are all unequivocally bad habits (that is to say that having just one cigarette is less healthy than having zero cigarettes etc…) Many studies have concluded that there are a range of health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption and, more specifically, moderate beer consumption. In fact, if you look at  the study that is being referenced in the article (which was presumably not assembled by a member of the media) it lists the five detrimental habits as: smoking, unhealthy alcohol consumption, poor diet, physical inactivity and high stress. That’s more accurate!

The second thing that annoyed me about the article is that author Andrew Moran chose to single out beer, writing: “put down that can of beer”. Why? Why beer? For some reason, the media really likes to push the notion that beer is unhealthy when it is, in fact, the lower alcohol option. If we’re talking about the health risks of alcohol, then maybe steering people to the lower alcohol option would be the responsible thing to do.

Then, of course, the photo that was chosen to accompany the piece is of a beer, re-inforcing the notion that beer is unhealthy. Ugh! I’ve included a segment of the photo on the upper left there. Doesn’t that beer look appealing and healthy? It does. You know why? Because it is healthy.  I understand that a photo of a cigarette is not aesthetically pleasing, but if the photo has to be a drink, why not go with a cooler or a rum and coke? I’m sure that the sugar content in either of those drinks makes drinking even just one of them “unhealthy”.

I don’t know why the media continues to vilify beer. It’s something that I’m fighting every day and articles like this one just make me mad.



  1. It’s because of the devolution of the North American political system into a class based system and the lingering perception from previous eras that poor people drink beer rather than wine or liquor and that it is therefore the most likely beverage to strike the readership as accessible.

    It has less to do with factual information and more to do with engendering fear and doubt in the reader.

    Comment by Jordan St.John on April 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm

  2. You know what’s hilarious? If you do the life expectancy survey referred to in the article, it’s really hard to get a life expectancy of less than 80, particularly if you don’t smoke. I wanted to see the effect of “drinking” on the outcome so I entered the maximum drinking figures allowable, coupled with poor diet, high stress and no exercise. And I still got 80! The only thing I didn’t do was smoke. So you have to wonder about the overall effect of drinking, according to this “research”. As you rightly say Mirella, moderation is key.

    Comment by Mark on April 7, 2012 at 10:56 pm

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