The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Most Kiwi drinkers drinking at or below alcohol guidelines

New Government research shows most New Zealanders drink at or below the recommended weekly limit of the Ministry of Health’s Low-risk Alcohol Drinking Advice.

The research from the Health Promotion Agency says just over 80% of drinkers are staying at or below the recommended 10 standard drinks a week for women and 15 standards for men.

The NZ Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC) says a shift in social attitudes to drinking is contributing to people being more moderate and responsible if they choose to have a drink, with its own research showing 40% of people choose to drink low-alcohol beverages.

“People are making better drinking decisions based on their personal circumstances and lifestyle,” says Bridget MacDonald, NZABC’s Executive Director.

“The majority of New Zealanders drink moderately and responsibly – but it is always helpful to use tools like the Low-risk Alcohol Drinking Advice to check how much you are drinking.”

MacDonald says the official advice also calls for two alcohol-free days a week, which the research says 92% of drinkers are doing.

However, NZABC says there is some confusion about alcohol guidelines, with the industry’s own research showing nearly half (49%) of Kiwis incorrectly thought that drinking anything more than one glass of beer or wine a day is, overall, harmful to your health.

“There can be social and health benefits from light to moderate drinking, but risks to yourself or others if you drink in a harmful way, so moderation is the key,” says MacDonald.

“For example, it is well established that, all things being equal, those that drink light to moderately tend to live longer than those that do not drink at all because of the positive cardiovascular benefits of drinking at this level.”

The research also showed that nearly two-thirds (63%) followed the ‘daily’ limit advice.

“We still have room for improvement when it comes to one in five people drinking harmfully in the past year.

“But we are seeing positive trends such as a general decline in hazardous drinking, fewer younger people drinking, our consumption is decreasing, and per capita, we consume less alcohol than the OECD average,” says MacDonald.

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