National Guidelines For Low-Risk Alcohol Consumption Vary Widely

"In reviewing the results there is a striking discrepancy in guidelines for low-risk consumption, ranging from 10 g per day (Bosnia and Herzegovina27, Croatia*, India28, Portugal*, Slovenia29 and Sweden30) to 56 g per day (Chile23). It is also notable that countries disagree as to whether low-risk drinking has the same definition for men and women. Differences in how countries define low-risk consumption in general and for different population groups may stem from reliance upon diverse data sources regarding alcohol-related harm. For example, public health officials and scientists in different countries may rely upon studies performed in different populations (e.g. in the general population versus in clinical samples), in different populations (e.g. in samples of men versus women, young people versus older adults) and in different social contexts (e.g. in cultures where drinking by women is or is not stigmatized more than drinking by men). That said, given the wide disparity in definitions of low-risk drinking around the world, it seems unlikely that everyone is correct. Indeed, one cannot even rule out the possibility that all 37 countries examined are in some sense wrong, in so far as there is no robust evidence that the general population changes its level of alcohol consumption in response to governments defining standard drinks and publishing low-risk drinking guidelines. Comparing the potential health impact of different nations' guidelines would be a worthy activity for international research teams."


Kalinowski, A., and Humphreys, K. (2016) Governmental standard drink definitions and low-risk alcohol consumption guidelines in 37 countries. Addiction, 111: 1293– 1298. doi: 10.1111/add.13341.