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Calls for international consensus on alcohol consumption

Psychologists from the University of Sussex have called for unified alcohol consumption guidelines after discovering different countries have significantly different approaches.

The researchers studied government suggestions on drinking in 57 countries, including all 27 in the EU. Dr Richard de Visser and Nina Furtwangler saw a “remarkable lack of agreement” in terms of recommendations on harmful or excessive alcohol intake on a daily and weekly basis, and also when behind the wheel of a car.

The study, which was published in this month’s Drug and Alcohol Review, also found there is no harmony when setting guidelines for the different sexes, with Dr de Visser stating there is no international agreement on how much women should drink in comparison to men. He said researchers were shocked by the wide variation in guidelines.

“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,” said Dr de Visser.

The findings have led to calls for internationally-agreed standard definitions of alcohol units and consumption guidelines to promote responsible drinking.

Dr de Visser and his colleagues discovered that some countries mentioned standard drinks but did not classify them in grams of ethanol. Additionally, eight countries in the EU do not offer readily accessible guidelines.

Of the countries which allowed motorists to have alcohol in their system, there was a 10-fold disparity between the least generous, Panama, and the most generous, United Arab Emirates.

Dr de Visser admitted guidelines do not always have the desired effect on alcohol moderation. However, he said there are people out there who do want to stick to recommendations.

“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,” added Dr de Visser.

































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