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Sunday, January 8, 2012

MPs urge Government to review its sensible drinking guidelines

MPs on the Science and Technology Committee conclude that greater efforts should also be focused on helping people understand the guidelines and how to use them.

Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the committee, said:

"Alcohol guidelines are a crucial tool for Government in its effort to combat excessive and problematic drinking. It is vital that they are up-to date and that people know how to use them.
Unfortunately, public understanding of how to use the guidelines and what an alcohol unit looks like is poor, although improving.
While we urge the UK Health Departments to re-evaluate the guidelines more thoroughly, the evidence we received suggests that the guidelines should not be increased and that people should be advised to take at least two drink-free days a week."

In 1987, the "sensible limits" for drinking were defined as 21 units of alcohol a week for men and 14 for women. By the early 1990s, scientific evidence had emerged suggesting that alcohol consumption might reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), prompting a review of the guidelines. The Government therefore recommended that drinking guidelines should be couched in daily terms: men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day and women no more than two to three units a day.

The committee found a lack of expert consensus over the health benefits of alcohol and is therefore sceptical about using the purported health benefits of alcohol as a basis for daily guidelines for the adult population, particularly as it is clear that any protective effects would only apply to men over 40 years and post-menopausal women, yet the guidelines apply to all adults.

The committee also found that while public awareness of the existence of guidelines was high, a deeper understanding of what the guidelines were and of what a unit of alcohol looked like was lacking. > > > > Read More