Words by Jack Peat of thelondoneconomic.com

After a typical weekend spent knocking back beers after work on Friday, sneaking in a few ales at the football and quaffing wine over lunch on Sunday the last thing I wanted to read first thing Monday morning is news that lifestyle choices such as diet, alcohol and smoking are claiming lives at an alarming rate.

It seems like these days you can’t wipe your arse without a new piece of research discovering carcinogens in toilet paper. After Bacongate lobbed processed meats into the same category as tobacco and asbestos I was about ready to give up on any hope of living a ‘healthy lifestyle’. Then the new Public Health England research went and hammered the last spike into my already nail-ridden coffin. I just hope when they put me in the ground my epitaph will read “Died doing what he loved”, inscrolled above a tin of Fosters and pot of HP sauce.

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But Boozy Britain is undoubtedly putting a strain on our resources. Health problems related to poor diet, drinking and smoking is costing the NHS in England more than £11bn each year, officials say, with around four out of ten middle-aged people already having a long-term condition for which there is currently no cure. Of course, the real irony is that no one wakes up with a hangover craving a fresh green salad, and so booze and nights out down the pub don’t only incorporate their own inherent health problems, but promote others too. A cocktail of misery, if you’ll excuse the pun.

There is also the issue of cost. According to OnePoll research Brits spend £90,942 and more than 14 months of their life at the pub, drinking some 13,104 alcoholic drinks and 3,276 shots between the ages of 18 and 81 on average. As Kevin Smith pointed out the research underlined that we are spending “a large amount of our time and money in pubs”, which can’t be good for our health or our wallets.

But surely that depends on your philosophy on life? Granted, alcohol doesn’t solve anything, but then neither does water, and I’d much rather lie on my deathbed – albeit a few years premature – with good stories to tell than a slender waistline and a fat bank balance. I can also get on board with those who promote ‘wellness’ as a means of enjoying life to the fullest. Simple things such as getting out for a long jog or taking the day to hike a mountain have been proved to boost metabolism and strengthen the immune system, as well as release endorphins to create a natural high.

It all brings us back to the simple yet all too often underused principle of balance and moderation. Drinking beer and eating bacon sandwiches isn’t paramount to putting a gun against your head, as some sensationalised headlines might have you believe, but there is real danger in not getting the balance right. I like a beer as much as the next man, but I’m not on the sauce every day and I balance it out with good food choices and a healthy exercise regime. For all the money spent on WHO and PHE studies it really is quite simple; Life is about balance.

You can have that one for free.