Partnerships with the alcohol industry at the expense of public health

Partnerships between public health agencies and industries which trade in potentially harmful products or activities – such as the recently announced and much criticised partnership between Public Health England (PHE) and the alcohol industry-funded body, Drinkaware – risk delaying or preventing effective policies to improve population health, say public health scientists Mark Petticrew, Martin McKee and Theresa Marteau in their Lancet Comment, published online on September 20th 2018. The authors say that such partnerships with industry promote voluntary models of harm reduction which are largely ineffective and are likely to benefit the relevant industries rather than improving the health of the nation. They conclude by recommending that PHE should work with the public health community to redefine its relationships with industry.

Professor Dame Theresa Marteau is Director of the (BHRU) at the University of Cambridge.

Partnerships with the alcohol industry: furthering industry interests at the expense of public health. Petticrew M, Marteau TM, McKee M. Lancet.

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How do regular drinkers perceive wines and beers labelled as lower in strength?

In a sample of 3390 weekly wine and beer drinkers, published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 30th August 2018, we assessed the impact of labelling wine and beer with different verbal descriptors denoting lower strength, with and without %ABV, on product appeal and understanding of strength.

Products labelled with verbal descriptors denoting lower alcohol strength (Low and Super Low) had less appeal than Regular (average) strength products.

Impact on product appeal of labeling wine and beer with (a) lower strength alcohol verbal descriptors and (b) percent alcohol by Vol. (%ABV): An experimental study.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Vasiljevic, M., Couturier, D.-L., & Marteau, T. M. (2018).

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Drink it straight: people take longer to consume sugary soft drinks served in straight-sided glasses

People drink soft drinks more slowly from glasses which have straight sides, when compared to those that slope outwards. That is the central conclusion of PhD research conducted by Tess Langfield, and published in PLoS One. Tess presented this research on Friday 7th September at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology annual conference in Gateshead, which also earned her a prize from BPS for her award winning abstract. Click below to access the full paper.

Impact of glass shape on time taken to drink a soft drink: A laboratory-based experiment. Langfield T, Pechey R, Pilling M, Marteau TM. PLoS ONE
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What is the potential impact of reducing portion sizes in worksite cafeterias?

Reducing the portion sizes of foods available in restaurants and cafeterias is one promising approach to reducing energy intake, but there is little evidence of its impact from randomised studies in field settings. In this paper, we provide the results of a pilot trial estimating the potential impact of reducing portion sizes of targeted foods in worksite cafeterias. Feedback after the intervention suggested it was broadly acceptable to customers and cafeteria staff. Each of the six cafeterias showed a reduction in daily energy purchased from intervention categories, but the overall reduction across all sites of 8.9% was not statistically significant. The results of this trial suggest that reducing portion sizes could be effective in reducing energy purchased from targeted food categories, but also that future studies will need to address factors that prevented optimal implementation, including site dropout and only reducing portion sizes of a limited range of products.

Impact of reducing portion sizes in worksite cafeterias: a stepped wedge randomised controlled pilot trial. Hollands GJ, Cartwright E, Pilling M, Pechey R, Vasiljevic M, Jebb SA, Marteau TM, 2018

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MRC Sackler PhD candidate Tess Langfield achieves award winning abstract

We are delighted to announce that our MRC Sackler PhD candidate Tess Langfield has had her abstract titled: Impact of glass shape on time taken to drink a soft drink: a laboratory-based experiment’ rated as one of the highest for presentation at this year’s Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference 2018 (run by the British Psychological Society). Tess will be giving her award winning presentation on Friday 7th September at 10:50am.