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Science & Technology Committee publish report on drinking guidelines

The Science and Technology Committee have released a report urging the Government to review its sensible drinking guidelines. The report, published today, is the result of an inquiry held at the end of last year, to which IAS gave evidence.

MPs on the 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.”

Key findings and recommendations from the report include:

  • A thorough review of the evidence concerning alcohol and health risks is due. The Government should set up a working group to conduct this and assess whether the guidelines should be changed
  • In the context of current daily guidelines, the public should be advised to take at least two alcohol-free days each week and the current guidelines should not be raised
  • Scepticism 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
  • A lack of public understanding about what the current guidelines are and what constitutes a unit of alcohol
  • The Government should remain mindful that sensible drinking messages may conflict with the business objectives of drinks companies and exercise proper scrutiny and oversight of voluntary unit labelling on alcoholic drinks

To download a copy of the report click here. (pdf 365kb)