Countries disagree on safe drinking advice

28th January, 2013 by Andy Young

New research has found that there is little agreement between countries on what is considered safe or sensible levels of alcohol consumption.

Wine and beerPsychologists from the University of Sussex researched government advice on drinking in 57 different countries, including all 27 EU member states.

The research found there was a “remarkable lack of agreement” about many different aspects of advice on alcohol consumption. Advice differed between countries about what constitutes harmful or excessive drinking, whether it is safe for women to drink as much as men and also on drink-driving.

Dr Richard de Visser and Nina Furtwangler conducted the research, which has been published this month in the Drug and Alcohol Review.

Dr de Visser said: “We were surprised at the wide variation in guidelines. There is no international agreement about whether women should drink as much as men or only half as much.

“In some countries, the weekly maximum is simply seven times the daily maximum, whereas in others there is an explicit statement that drinkers should have at least one alcohol-free day a week.”

The research also found that in eight of the 27 EU countries there were no “readily accessible guidelines.”

Calls have now been made for internationally-agreed consumption guidelines to help people drink responsibly.

Dr de Visser added: “Agreed guidelines would be useful for international efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm by increasing people’s capacity to monitor and regulate their alcohol consumption.”

In the UK the recommended alcohol limits are 21 units of alcohol per week, no more than four units in any one day and at least two alcohol-free days a week for men. Women are advised to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, no more than three units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week.

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