Background to drinking advice

The HPA's alcohol drinking advice is based on the most current and best available scientific research and evidence using the primary resource material of:

Both these guidelines were developed by a committee of experts, informed by research literature reviews and studies conducted by Dr Jurgen Rehm and colleagues, peer reviewed by international experts and informed by consultation.

The 2009 Australian guidelines have the same limits for both men and women. HPA’s drinking advice, like the Canadian guidelines, have different limits for men and women. These gender differences reflect the impact of alcohol on women, due to factors such as body size and composition, ability to metabolise alcohol and the higher risk of developing a range of health conditions.

Previous ‘upper limits for responsible drinking’ were developed in 1994 by a group consisting of alcohol producers, health promoters and problem intervention and treatment workers that sought a consensus approach. The upper limits, which were frequently referred to as ALAC guidelines, were reviewed and replaced by revised drinking advice because:

  • considerably more evidence has emerged since 1994, particularly of the effect of alcohol on the developing brain of adolescents
  • HPA has a legislated responsibility to provide up-to-date scientific evidence on the risks of drinking alcohol
  • a corresponding change to guidelines has been made in comparable jurisdictions such as Australia and Canada.
     
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