Men’s alcohol intake should reduce from 21 units to 14 units per week, bringing it in line with women’s recommended amounts, Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer announced in new guidance.
This is the equivalent to six pints of 4% alcohol beer or six glasses of 13% wine. The guideline suggested that these units should be spread over three or four days in order to combat binge drinking, for example two drinks on three days.
Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Public Health, welcomed the change, but said this “needs to be accompanied by action on all fronts, including clearer health information on alcohol, such as calorie labelling and further investment in alcohol and educational programmes.”
For example, more must be done to increase public understanding of alcohol units, she said, as only around one-in-four people knew one unit was “less than a small glass of wine” with around half of people wrongly thinking one glass of wine equalled one unit.
The new recommended intake places the UK below the world average for weekly alcohol intake for both men and women, but on a par with Australia and Canada.
Research has shown that alcohol is a factor in the development of over 60 medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke and some cancers, with men bearing the brunt of alcohol-related harm (men account for roughly 65% of alcohol related deaths).
In order for the guideline to be realised, Cramer added that “efforts should also be made to lower the default strength and serving size for alcohol served in pubs and bars.”