The federal government’s newest round of dietary guidelines are coming soon, and the advice under consideration is sure to spark debate headed into the holidays: No more than one alcoholic drink for men.
That’d be a big change from the last 30 years of alcohol guidance that said men could have two drinks a day and still be healthy. As for women, the guidelines aren’t expected to shift: Female drinkers are already advised to cut themselves off after one alcoholic beverage a day.
Nothing is final yet.
Alcohol and retail groups — and even Harvard scientists who worked on previous guidelines — oppose the panel’s latest advice for men. They argue the process for issuing the recommendation was flawed and erodes its credibility. They worry moderate drinking is being demonized and conflated with binge drinking, and that the guidelines would set the stage for anti-alcohol state laws.
“If the dietary guidelines do change, all of a sudden there’s a bigger pool of what the government sees as alcohol abusers,” Jackson Shedelbower, a spokesman for the American Beverage Institute, told Insider. The trade group represents restaurants.
It wouldn’t be the first time the government shifts its guidance on alcohol. In 2010 federal officials removed language declaring moderate drinking as good for heart health.
Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who worked in the Obama administration and is now an advisor to Biden, rankled alcohol groups in 2016 when he issued a report on addiction that recommended addressing alcoholism through imposing taxes, marketing bans, and limiting where and when alcohol could be sold.
Those recommendations were similar to the playbook used to successfully reduce smoking in the US. The main difference is government guidelines still say moderate drinking can be part of a healthy diet, while they more forcefully urge against any tobacco use.
“He suggested this whole kitchen sink of alcohol policies,” Shedelbower from the American Beverage Institute said of Murthy. “What these policies do is they lump in moderate drinkers with alcohol abusers.”
Read the full news story on Business Insider by Kimberly Leonard here.