ABA critical of confusion over NHMRC drinking guidelines

20 December, 2019 by Andy Young

Alcohol Beverages Australia ABA has criticised the drinking guidelines from National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), saying they are too complicated, making it difficult to manage your long-term risk.

The ABA said the guidelines are extremely important and must have credibility within both the health community and the public, and also called into question the impartiality of the certain members of the NHMRC panel.

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ABA CEO, Andrew Wilsmore, said: “If you are a male drinking daily, you can have 20.2 standard drinks a week – equivalent to 2.9 standard drinks on each day.  If, however, you limit your drinking to 3 times a week, you can have 12.5 standard drinks in a week (4.1 drinks on each occasion).

“If you are a female who chooses to drink daily you can have 15.3 standard drinks per week, equivalent to ~2.2 drinks each day. If, however, you limit your drinking to 3 times a week, you can have 10.5 standard drinks in a week (3.5 drinks on each occasion).

“The NHMRCs advice of no more than 10 standard drinks a week is based on their modelling which shows most Australian’s drink three times a week, which they have qualified stating ‘these estimates remain highly uncertain’.

“The only simple thing in these new Guidelines is the unchanged recommendation to drink no more than four-standard drinks to reduce your short-term harm.

“Positively these Guidelines have shown once again that the moderate consumption of alcohol has a legitimate place as a normal part of Australian society.

“Most Australians are managing the risks associated with harmful consumption of alcohol with moderation being the new norm.

“We have real concerns over the impartiality of certain contractors and members of the panel tasked to review the guidelines, due to their background with anti-alcohol and temperance organisations.

“This has seen a very one-sided view against the cardio-protective benefits of moderate consumption, which has in turn influenced the outcomes,” Wilsmore said.

Alcohol Beverages Australia said it will be closely reviewing the content of the draft guidelines and providing a written submission by the due date.