Daily Drinking Guidelines ‘Misleading’.
First Reported: August 2009
The current guidelines for daily alcohol intake for men and women, seen often attached to advertising and available from many sources after the (now opposition) Labour Government began its anti-alcohol campaigning may be misleading, and even harmful to the public. The standard facts and limits are as follows.
Facts: A ‘unit’ of alcohol is 8g or 10ml of pure alcohol. A half pint of normal strength (approx 4-5% ABV) beer, lager or cider is 1 unit. Also, 1 unit is half standard glass (175ml in the UK) wine @ 12%ABV or one ‘shot’ (25ml in the UK) of spirits @ 38%ABV Drinking over 8 units (men), or 6 units (women) is considered a ‘binge’. Limits, as recommended by the Department of Health. Men should drink no more than 3 to 4 units per day (depending on their individual BMI. (BMI?) Women should drink no more than 2 or 3. (no really, BMI?)
A representative of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, Dr Nick Sheron, has spoken out against the current standard, saying that the limits were improvised by civil servants rather than medical professionals and were implemented with “no good evidence” for doing so. Dr Sheron recommended a return to ‘weekly limits’ that were used from 1987 right up to 1995, when they were changed, ironically, to ease confusion. He said, regarding the daily standard: “They were turned into daily limits by a community of civil servants and the reasoning behind it is shrouded in mystery.”
The weekly limits were based on robust studies and were set at a level at which alcohol harms outweigh any putative benefit.” (‘putative’ means ‘believed in’) Dr Rachel Seabrook of the Institute of Alcohol Studies has said: “We are concerned about the use of ‘daily’ in the message. It implies that you can drink on every day… There should be a specific warning against this.” “The Royal College’s recommendation of two days of abstinence a week has quietly disappeared. It was probably dropped to keep the message simple, but that is not a good move.” The Department of Health defended the move to daily guidelines:
The scientific evidence base was examined by an inter-departmental working group in 1995. This has been kept under review since then.” So, a precise and clear response from the government at least! In 2007 Britain, the year Gordon Brown became the Labour Prime Minister, 69% of the British public (the ones that were asked at least) said that they had heard of the government’s guidelines, but of those, 40% did not know what those recommendations were.
The year before that, 12% of men and 7% of women surveyed said that they had drunk alcohol every day for the previous week. According to Wikipedia, the UK population for 2006 was 60,587,300. So if the survey results are hypothetically expanded to include the whole country, that makes 7,270,476 men and 4,241,111 women drinking every day. That’s Eleven Million Five Hundred and Eleven Thousand Five Hundred and Eighty-Seven potential alcoholics living in the UK! With those figures, surely whether the limit is set at weekly or daily, it’s failed?
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