It was launched by the Scottish government, earlier this year, as part of their ‘drink smarter’ campaign, but the ‘Drinking Mirror’ app, an app that shows how drinking too much could affect your appearance, has proved to be so popular, it has gone global and has been downloaded by more than half a million people.
The smartphone app aims to target women aged 31 to 44, by letting you upload a pic and seeing what your face might look like after 10 years of drinking at your current rate. You have to either take a picture of yourself, or upload one, add the amount you are currently drinking then the app works out how you will look after ten years of drinking at that rate.
The app is free to download for iPhone and Android devices, and the creators of the app admit that they are using people’s vanity about their appearance to try and make them aware of the problems of drinking in the long term.
“In Scotland, we have a troubled relationship with alcohol,” an unnamed spokeswoman told CNN. “We’re focusing on women to try a different approach.”
The Scottish Alcohol Behaviour Change campaign not only featured the Drinking Mirror app, but attempted to focus people on the amount they were drinking, by clarifying what a unit of alcohol looked like. It was noted that some difficulties arise because of the type of alcohol being consumed, and many people were actually underestimating how much they perceived a unit to be. The campaign encouraged women to ‘Drop a Drink Size’.
The campaign’s website recommends that the recommended daily limit of alcohol should be two to three “units” for women and three to four for men. To understand a little further, a unit of spirits is 25 milliliters, which is about .85 ounces, or roughly half a shot, while a 20-ounce beer (568 milliliters, aka the “Imperial pint,” which is larger than the typical 16-ounce pint) clocks in at 2.8 units.
Scottish Health Survey released figures that suggest more than one in three women regularly drink more than is good for their health – the recommended weekly guideline of 14 units for women.
They also reported that in Scotland, one in 30 deaths among women is alcohol-related. In 2010, there were 1,318 alcohol-related deaths in Scotland – an increase of 36 (3%) compared with 2009. Of these deaths, 909 were males and 409 were females.
Health Secretary Alex Neil told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Over the past 20 years or so there has been a doubling in the number of deaths of women aged 31 to 44 as a result of over-consumption of alcohol and there’s been a trebling of the incidence of cirrhosis and liver disease as well.”
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “Everyone by now is aware that bold action is needed to tackle Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol. The impact of our consumption is estimated to cost Scots £3.56bn each year. That’s £900 for every adult.
With Scots drinking more than any other part of the UK, this campaign aims to encourage adults in Scotland, particularly women, to recognise how much they are actually drinking and to help them make small changes to the way they drink which can improve their health and well-being.”
App designer Auriole Price said: “The main aim of the app is to shock people into drinking just a little bit less. We are appealing to people’s vanity as the effects of alcohol can include red broken veins on the cheeks, bloodshot eyes, a bloated face and deeper wrinkles.”
The campaign has now updated the Drinking Mirror app to show how cutting back could improve your looks over 10 years.
For more information, check out the Drink Smarter campaign at DrinkSmarter.org.