Beer-lovers in the United States are furious that their government is considering issuing strict new guidance — recommending people have no more than two brews a week.
Canada’s Beer Influence
The potential new advice on beer drinking would mirror that of Canada, which at the start of the year told Canadians to have two drinks a week at the most, because anything more would be bad for their health. That was met with consternation by Canadians fond of a daily tipple.
Current US Alcohol Advice
US health agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advises Americans to limit their alcohol intake to two drinks for men and one for women per day. Should the advice change, people sticking to it would have to drastically alter how much they drink.
‘All Booze Bad’
Drinking could be as bad as lighting up, meaning any amount, no matter how small, risks health problems, some scientists now say. The World Health Organization warns that alcohol can cause cancer.
‘High Risk of Disease’
The global health body says: “Alcohol is a toxic, psychoactive, and dependence-producing substance and has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer decades ago – this is the highest risk group, which also includes asbestos, radiation and tobacco.”
Advice Under Review
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the United States is reviewing its alcohol advice and may change it when the current recommendations expire in 2025.
Its director, Dr George Koob, said in an interview with the Daily Mail that it may be best to cut back on drinking for the sake of health. “If there’s health benefits, I think people will start to re-evaluate where we’re at [in the US],” he said.
No Chance of Suggesting More Alcohol
The US would almost certainly not be advising Americans to drink more, by expanding its guidelines, Dr Koob said. “I mean, they’re not going to go up, I’m pretty sure,” he said.
“So, if [alcohol consumption guidelines] go in any direction, it would be toward Canada.”
The US is a country of people who love beer, especially when they’re at sporting events, like baseball and football, or watching them on TV. It’s among the top three beer-drinking countries in the world, with China coming in first, the US in second place and Brazil in third, according to an analysis of the global beer market by research firm SkyQuest Technology.
Beer Brewers’ Fears
Any advice that Americans should drink less beer is not likely to go down well with the country’s brewers, especially Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest maker of beer.
Its all-American Budweiser beer is cherished by people all over the country and may face declining sales if the government of President Joe Biden approves new advice saying people should drink a maximum of two beers a week.
The authorities’ apparent desire for people to drink less may not be entirely beneficial, some experts are saying, because it doesn’t take into account the positive social effects of drinking.
People gather to eat and drink, in bars, restaurants and at each other’s homes, and especially at times of celebration like birthdays and weddings, conveying beneficial aspects to society, they say. Without this, many people would likely have far fewer social encounters, potentially leading to depression and other health problems.
A Happy Drinking Medium?
One possible way out of the alcohol-advice conundrum might be to opt for zero- or low-alcohol beers, which have been growing in popularity in recent years. They provide all the taste of beer that people like but with little or no booze.
The global zero-alcohol market is currently worth around $20 billion and is projected to be double that figure by 2033 as drinkers seek out healthier options, according to research earlier this year.
‘No Health Benefits’
Experts have long touted the health benefits of some alcoholic drinks, particularly red wine, saying they contain antioxidants and are good for the heart. But Dr Koob ruled out any such advantages.
There were “no benefits” associated with alcoholic drinks, he said. “Most of the benefits people attribute to alcohol, we feel they really have more to do with what someone’s eating rather than what they’re drinking.”
Med Diet: Food, Not the Drinks
Dr Koob said the famed Mediterranean diet — rich in fresh vegetables and olive oil — was highly beneficial for human health and any alcoholic drinks that people have with it, like wine, didn’t add anything of value.
“With this in mind, most of the benefits kind of disappear on the health side,” he said.
Two Beers a Week ‘A Joke’
Republicans have hit out at any new drinking advice from the Democratic administration of Joe Biden, with Texas Republican congressman Troy Nehls blasting it as “What a joke.”
“The Democrats are like this. They want to have complete control over your life. Two beers per week? What an absolute joke,” he said.
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