3 November 2022

University of Sheffield experts research public health effects of alcohol-free and low alcohol drinks

Experts at the University of Sheffield are leading a new research project aiming to understand how alcohol-free or low alcohol drinks affect public health.

Pint of beer on a table in a pub

Experts at the University of Sheffield are leading a new research project aiming to understand how alcohol-free or low alcohol drinks affect public health.

The study – funded by NIHR – will explore how alcohol companies, health campaigners and the UK government encourage people to drink alcohol-free or low alcohol drinks. They will also explore how consuming these drinks changes people’s alcohol consumption and whether this might help or harm people.

Led by Professor John Holmes, Director of the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at the University of Sheffield, the research project will also involve researchers from University of Stirling, King’s College London and University College London. The researchers will also work closely with policy makers in the Department of Health and Social Care.

The project seeks to understand changes in the alcohol-free and low alcohol drinks market and how these changes influence consumers. Alcohol-free and low alcohol drinks could improve public health if people drink them instead of normal alcohol, but there are also concerns that they might cause harm to some people, such as children or people with alcohol dependence. The project will therefore also explore how companies market these drinks to consumers. The project will ultimately show if alcohol-free and low alcohol drinks improve people’s health and close the gap in health between richer and poorer people.

Professor John Holmes said: “No- and low-alcohol drinks could play a big role in changing people’s drinking habits and the level of harm caused by alcohol, but we need to make sure those changes are positive and do not have unintended consequences.  This project will provide Governments and public health professionals with the evidence they need to produce effective policies, guidance and campaigns in this area.”

The research is now under way and will take around 4.5 years to complete.

For more information, contact john.holmes@sheffield.ac.uk or visit: https://fundingawards.nihr.ac.uk/award/NIHR135310

Disclaimer: This study is funded by the NIHR PHR programme (NIHR135310). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.