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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2004, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Feeling OK? Have a 'pint'
The long-running ad campaign is well known
The long-running ad campaign is well known

The old advertising slogan "Guinness is good for you", is being taken quite literally in Belfast.

A health group in Short Strand has come up with a tempting new way to talk to men about their health - over a pint of the black stuff.

The scheme is being run by the East Belfast Community Health Information Project which is taking its message right into local hostelries.

Organiser PJ Jones said the idea was to bring health matters to male attention and the only place they could do that was where men gathered - in the the pub.

"Men don't seem to go to the doctors, " he said.

"So, it's giving them an incentive to take a pint and come and get a small health check.

"It will be a social event as well. We didn't want to bring in the professional look - the doctors - because men stand back from that."

Researchers in the USA have said that a pint of the black stuff a day may work as well as an aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks.

Last November, a team from Wisconsin University tested the health-giving properties of stout against lager by giving it to dogs who had narrowed arteries.

They found that those given the Guinness had reduced clotting activity in their blood and believe that "antioxidant compounds" in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the benefits.

Health checks and a pint go hand in hand in Belfast
The Belfast scheme, part of a health awareness week, is a one-off idea and has never been tried in the area before.

However, there is a serious message to the fun side of the campaign which organisers are keen to highlight.

"It's usually the women that tell the men to go to the doctors," said Mr Jones.

"The simple message to men is prevention is better than detection. You need detection to get it sorted out. But if you can prevent it, it will save money on the health service."

He added: "If they (men) don't come to the surgery, we'll bring it to them."

Guinness has reportedly given the go-ahead for the east Belfast scheme.

Last year, a spokesperson for Diageo, the company that now owns the Guinness brand, told the BBC: "We never make any medical claims for our drinks."

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