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What the no-alcohol boom means for our drinking habits and health

Low and no-alcohol drinks taste better than ever – but do they really help you cut down on boozing, and are they healthier than the real thing?



Health



5 January 2022

Empty bottles in green container; Shutterstock ID 145222138; purchase_order: 08 Jan 2021 issue; job: 08 Jan 2021 - Feature; client: Photo; other:

Shutterstock/sirtravelalot

IT IS Thursday lunchtime, and I am already on my third beer. I have also got a G&T under my belt and there is rosé in the fridge. Once I have glugged some of that, I may treat myself to a negroni. After that, I had better stop, because my cat has an appointment at the vet and I need to drive him there.

Don’t worry, we will be perfectly safe. If the police stop me and ask “have you been drinking, sir?”, I will tell them the truth: I haven’t. Unless you count the tenth of a unit of alcohol in one of the beers.

All the drinks in my session were zero or low alcohol, a rapidly growing sector known in the business as “no and low” or just “nolo”. Once something to be endured rather than enjoyed, they are undergoing a revolution in quality and a surge in popularity as people sober up to the impacts of alcohol consumption on their health and waistlines.

Before, I had never seen the point of a pint with no punch. Now, I am attempting a dryish January, propped up by my new drinking buddies no and lo. But I have questions. Can low and zero-alcohol drinks really help me cut down, or will they ultimately reinforce my drinking habits? Are they healthier than the real thing? And can they ever taste as good?

There is no doubt that alcohol is a harmful drug and that many people would do themselves the power of good by drinking less of it. Alcohol is a carcinogen with no level of risk-free consumption …

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