Confusing alcohol guidelines
It has already become clear that food guidelines can often be somewhat misleading. When we think of a food guideline, we usually think of calories, sugars and fats. But, of course, there are also guidelines for alcohol.
Particularly on an international level, food guidelines are often not concordant, causing a great deal of confusion. Due to the differing values of a “standard glass” in these guidelines, there are significant differences in what countries state one should be allowed to drink. In Poland, for example, the recommended maximum drinking amount is three times higher than in the Netherlands, which is an unusual situation.
The guidelines are incredibly diverse. In some countries, like the Netherlands, no distinction has been made between men and women, while other countries’ guidelines specify that men are allowed to drink more than women.
There are also differences in the recommended grams of alcohol. In a few cautious countries, the maximum drinking amount to remain within the realm of low-risk behaviour is 10 grams of alcohol per day, while in Chile one can drink no less than 56 grams of alcohol a day and still remain within the low-risk category.
There are also countries, like Australia and Mexico, that measure using different time values; measuring in weeks instead of in days. This encourages drinking a lot in one session. But what is best? Opinions are divided on the matter. Should men be allowed to drink more than women and still remain in the low-risk category, and is it better to drink a small amount on a daily basis or a large quantity in one session? The information provided is unclear and inconsistent.
Researcher Keith Humphreys of the Stanford University School of Medicine says: “Inconsistency between the guidelines causes scepticism regarding the correctness of the advice. It cannot be the case that all of the countries are right. Perhaps they’re all wrong.” He could be right. At the very least, it’s something we should be taking seriously.