Quit the booze and get fit for 2012

AN alcohol awareness group has backed a Hartlepool Mail campaign to get the town fit.

Balance, the North-East alcohol awareness group, gave the Mail’s Race For Fitness project the thumbs-up – especially as 2012 is the year when the London Olympics and the European Football Championship look set to capture the nation’s imagination.

As well as celebrating two top-class sporting festivals, Balance officials fear the Olympics and football championships will also be a time when people over-indulge in drink.

With the 2012 London Games now just 205 days away, Balance has joined forces with the Mail to launch our Race For Fitness campaign.

We want to hear from at least 2,012 people in Hartlepool and east Durham who plan to spend this year improving their health.

You could quit smoking or drinking, take up exercise, or go on a diet.

Or do you have plans for a sponsored cycle, run, walk or swim?

It doesn’t have to be a Herculean challenge. The most important thing is that you take part in our Race For Fitness project.

Whatever your story, we want to hear it between now and the moment the Olympic flame is lit on July 27.

To support the launch of the Mail’s campaign, Balance urged Hartlepool residents to think about how much they are drinking and the potential health risks of drinking too much.

Balance director Colin Shevills said: “People are often surprised at how much they are drinking.

“But it’s important to stick to the recommended guidelines.

“Drinking too much, too often is having an impact across the North-East.

“It is affecting our health, communities, the economy and our workplaces.”

Studies show the North-East has the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England and the highest rate of alcohol specific hospital admissions for under 18s in England.

The number of hospital admissions for people in their early 30s with alcoholic liver disease has increased by more than 400 per cent in the North-East over the past eight years – the national increase stands at 61 per cent.

Mr Shevills said: “We’ve made a great deal of progress in 2011, but there is still work to be done.

“We’ll be launching a new health campaign in February, which will be asking people across Hartlepool to consider how much alcohol they drink and helping residents to live a healthier and happier lifestyle.”

Throughout 2012, Balance will also continue to call for more to be done to protect children and young people from exposure to alcohol through advertising, which encourages them to drink earlier and to consume more.

Mr Shevills added: “We will continue to work hard throughout 2012 to tackle alcohol misuse and reduce the impact it is having on the North-East.”

For further details and information on how to support the campaign, visit the Balance website by logging on to www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk and selecting the link at the bottom of this story.