Happy New Year!  It looks like there is even more to celebrate this New Year – our glass size is growing bigger!  Helping us drink more alcohol!

So even though we don’t usually pay much attention to the size of the glass, we certainly like to have a couple of drinks during the festive season.  And one thing leads to another, and it can be rather easy to over indulge in the amount of alcohol we consume during the holidays.  But if we thought we were keeping a count on the number of drinks we had, then maybe we need to think again.  Whilst it is a good idea to keep tabs on how many glasses we have, do we really have a good idea of the total amount of alcohol?

Glass size is growing

It would seem that every year over the last few years, our glass size is growing bigger and bigger.  Whilst this doesn’t sound like an impending disaster, it does have connotations on how much alcohol we drink.  When our glass size is growing, there is a temptation to fill the glass with more alcohol.  There is no doubt that larger wine and beer glasses tend to increase the amount that we drink.

Is there a history behind this?

Oh yes!  There is, apparently the average glass size is growing at an astounding rate.  The average size of a wine glass has doubled since 1990.  But that is not such a long time ago (well, for some of us, anyway!).  Apparently, the average wine glass is now more than 7 times larger than they were 300 years ago!  Wine glass capacity increased from around 66 millilitres in the 1700s to around 417 millilitres in the 2000s.  (Source: www.bmj.com) That’s a lot!

Drink More Alcohol

Why is the average glass size growing?

There is a reason why glass size has ballooned over the past 300 years.  The first thing to take into account was that 300 years ago, Europeans drank fortified wine because it did not go bad.  In the days before refrigeration and modern transport, wine was an expensive trade commodity.  To avoid the risk of transporting vinegar, the wine was fortified with spirit to make it last longer.  So the glass size was generally smaller.

Why is the glass size growing so quickly?

But in more recent times, the best explanation for why the glass size is growing so rapidly is marketing.  The advertising and promotion of alcohol products love to show copious amounts of alcohol being associated with people having a good time.  It is pretty easy to draw a correlation here that the alcohol industry wants us to believe that more alcohol means more fun.  The alcohol industry wants us to drink more alcohol because it increases their sales and profits.

But does more alcohol mean more fun?

Just think of how many people who go to a party saying, “I’ll only have one glass”.  One huge glass!  Before they know it, they want more alcohol.  So they decide to have another glass, and then another!  The problem with alcohol is that it tricks us into wanting to drink more alcohol against our wishes.  The size of the glass can be a trap!  IT sure doesn’t help.  Sure the party might be a lot of fun, but the hangover that we suffer the next day is not fun.

Alcohol is cheaper and more available

Along with the marketing and promotion of alcohol is the way alcohol is more available in society.  Alcohol laws have become more relaxed.  Alcohol sales outlets are more common.  Most noteworthy is that the prices of alcohol have reduced.  All of this, at the same time as glass size is growing to be double the size in just a few years.  And these factors have combined to make us drink more alcohol.

Why is the growing glass size causing us to drink more alcohol?

Scientists believe that our brain can be tricked into thinking that all glasses are the same size.  We tend to count the number of glasses that we have had to drink, rather than the overall volume.  So we may start out the night with an intention to stick with a fixed number of drinks.  Either of two things can happen:

  • We stick to the right number of glasses, but in reality drink more than we realise
  • We can’t stick to the number of glasses and drink way more than intended.

Either way, we end up drinking more alcohol than we intended to.  And a larger glass size is no assistance to us at all.

Alcohol sales increase when glass size is growing

The sales of alcohol naturally increase during the festive season and other celebratory holidays.  But alcohol sales also increase when the glass size is growing.  So this is good news for the alcohol industry, but not good news for those who suffer from hangovers!  It’s not good for the general health of the population to continue to drink more alcohol.

Don’t ruin your New Year with a hangover!  Remember that when it comes to the fact that the glass size is growing, glass size does matter!  Don’t fall into the trap of drinking too much alcohol just because your glass is bigger.
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