Access Economics has today released a report, financed by the Distilled Spirits Industry Council, critical of lower alcohol intake guidelines released by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The draft guidelines released last October reduced the four drinks a day limit for men to two drinks a day to reduce associated risks with alcohol consumption. There was no change to the existing two standard drinks a day maximum for women, although pregnant and breast-feeding women are now recommended to cut all alcohol intake.
The Access Economics report has condemned the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines as "both flawed and alarmist", relying on data collected in developing countries and ignoring the proven health benefits of moderate alcohol use.
The draft guidelines were partly based on a twelve nation survey of medical emergency room admissions in countries such as Mozambique, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Belarus, South Africa, China and India - which Access Economics claims have significantly higher risks than Australia. The report highlights Australia's serving restrictions, tough drink driving laws, random breath testing and other regulatory controls, policy and infrastructure measures as being superior to the developing countries highlighted.
The report's author, Lynne Pezzullo, said "the proposed new draft guidelines imply the majority of Australian males are at risk due to their current drinking habits."
Professor Robin Room, of Melbourne University's school of population health and a member of the expert committee which assisted in the draft guidelines, said the Access Economics report was flawed. She said the purpose of the guidelines was to set out the risks involved in drinking, and said the two drinks a day guideline was not yet settled.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald 1, 2 & The Australian