Responding to the UK Chief Medical Officers, Alcohol Guidelines Review, Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive, Portman Group said:

“The vast majority of us – more than four in five adults – drink within the current lower risk guidelines. Guidelines are important because they help people make informed choices about their own drinking so it’s vital that they are trusted and understood by consumers. What is surprising is that the UK is breaking with established international precedent by recommending the same guidelines for men and women. It also means that UK men are now being advised to drink significantly less than their European counterparts.”

Key figures:

77% of adults drink 14 units a week or fewer (i.e. within or below the new guidelines) (Health and Social Care Information Centre, December 2015)

By gender:

  • 68% of men drink 14 units a week or fewer (HSCIC, 2015)
  • 85% of women drink 14 units a week or fewer (HSCIC, 2015)

(As a comparison, the HSCIC figures show that 83% of adults drank within or below the previous weekly ‘lower risk’ guidelines of 21 units a week for a man and 14 units per week for a woman. By gender:  78% of men drank 21 units a week or fewer and 85% of women drank 14 units a week or fewer.)

International comparisons:

  • 37 countries set alcohol guidelines.
  • 33 countries recommend daily limits and of these 10 also set weekly guidelines.
  • Only four countries (Denmark, Malta, Luxembourg and Ireland) recommend weekly limits without daily guidelines.
  • 32 countries (whether they provide daily or weekly guidelines or both) clearly distinguish men from women in the advice they give.
  • There are only five countries that recommend the same guidelines for men and women: Australia, Netherlands, Albania, Guyana and Grenada.

There are no countries that provide only weekly guidelines and also recommend the same limits for men and women.