This Fifa World Cup, let football, not alcohol, drive the spirit of the game in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2018, 4:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2018, 11:22pm

Many football fans will be enjoying a cold beer while watching their favourite teams compete for the Fifa World Cup in Russia. However, beer and football is definitely not a winning combination when it comes to health.

Is alcohol really a must for the match experience? The experience of Sochi’s 2014 Winter Olympics, which prohibited the sale of alcohol inside sports stadiums and arenas as well as within 50 metres of some sports venues, is an inspiring example which shows that a global sporting event without alcohol can still be successful and enjoyable.

Many alcohol-drinkers are not aware of the harmful consequences. The toxic effect of alcohol affects nearly every part of the body, exerting both immediate and long-term effects on our health. It can cause more than 200 diseases or health conditions, including multiple major cancers and stroke.

Some studies have tried to suggest that drinking in moderation is good for health. However, as alcohol is cancer-causing, there is in fact no safe level of drinking.

Two Hongkongers on abstinence from alcohol and its health benefits

Alcohol is quickly absorbed into our body and produces an immediate tranquillising effect, followed by disinhibition. Alcohol also impairs our brain function and self-control. The more alcohol consumed in a shorter period of time, the larger the negative effects on the brain and behaviour, and the higher the chance of suffering from a range of harms.

Also, alcohol is full of empty calories. Two cans of beer for each match in this World Cup could lead to weight gain of more than 5 pounds (2.3kg).

Some people have the misconception that beer is safer than other alcoholic beverages. However, it is the amount of alcohol consumed that affects a person most, not the type of drink.

In fact, one 330ml can of beer has about the same amount of alcohol as one 150ml glass of red or white wine, or 45ml of hard liquor.

One common belief is that beer helps to cool down the body. In fact, alcohol causes the kidneys to produce a greater volume of more diluted urine, which can lead to dehydration.

Watch: How Chinese football fans are enjoying the 2018 World Cup

Hong Kong children drinking alcohol as young as 10, study finds

Starting with this World Cup, why not drink smart and choose a healthy beverage, or make your own? We recommend soda water with slices of lemon or lime. With its very low calories, you will not need to worry about gaining a beer belly by the end of the tournament.

When it comes to health, it is up to you whether you can put down that glass of beer and dare to challenge your drinking peers to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Dr Regina Ching, consultant community medicine (non-communicable disease), Department of Health