Low awareness of alcohol guidelines among the public

Awareness of weekly alcohol guidelines are 'shockingly low', health officials have revealed.

Monday, 8th January 2018, 4:30 pm
Updated Monday, 8th January 2018, 4:33 pm
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.

New figures show that less than one in five people in the North East (16 per cent) is aware of the guidelines two years after they were launched.

They also reveal that only one in 20 adults is aware of advice that children should not drink alcohol before the age of 15, meaning some parents are not equipped with the right information to keep children safe from alcohol harm.

The low-risk weekly drinking guideline for adults is 14 units a week – around six pints of four per cent beer or six medium glasses of wine.

The Chief Medical Officer for England also advised that an alcohol-free childhood is best, but if young people want to try alcohol they should be at least be 15 and in a supervised environment.

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In addition, the younger someone starts drinking, the more likely they are to develop a problem with alcohol when they are older.

After producing the figures, Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said that it was concerned at the apparent lack of information getting to people.

Colin Shevills, director, said: “Awareness of these guidelines is shockingly low and we know many people who drink at higher levels consider themselves to be moderate drinkers.

“It is a failing of the Government and the alcohol industry not to have publicised these low-risk limits two years on.

“We carried out a brief review of product labels last year and found only one of 300 carrying the new guidelines.

“It means hundreds of thousands of people are putting their health at risk while potentially remaining unaware of the guidelines.”

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, a liver doctor and chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said that more should be done to ensure the guidelines for both adults and children are communicated to the public.

He said: “It can’t be right that only a fifth of the public is aware of the alcohol guidelines for adults, and that one in 20 is aware of the advice around children’s drinking.

“It’s hardly surprising that the public want the Government to do more.

“The public have the right to know the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines so that they are empowered to make informed choices about their drinking.

“The same applies to parents, who want to do the right thing by their children and deserve to be informed of the Chief Medical Officers’ guidance on children and alcohol.

“It is clear from our polling that the public want to be informed of the risks linked with alcohol, including the link with cancer, and that they want to see clear warning information on alcohol labels about the drinking guidelines and the risks of drinking at levels above these guidelines.

“To this end, the Government should introduce mandatory labelling of all alcoholic products, to ensure that the public and parents are fully informed about the risks.”