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Anorak | Here’s To Swallowing Government Guidelines On Alcohol Consumption

Here’s To Swallowing Government Guidelines On Alcohol Consumption

by | 20th, October 2007

“GUIDELINES on safe alcohol consumption limits that have shaped health policy in Britain for 20 years were ‘plucked out of the air’ as an ‘intelligent guess’,” reports the Times.

We’ll drink to that. But this comes as no small shock to we who live our lives by official diktat. That the recommended weekly drinking limits of 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 for women, first introduced in 1987 and still in use today, has “no firm scientific basis whatsoever”, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

For we who believed in the pickling process of alcohol (and more on salt later), more was always the recipe to a longer-lasting shelf life. Richard Smith, a member of the Royal College of Physicians working party that produced the advice, now says the recommendation was prompted by “a feeling that you had to say something”. The committee’s epidemiologist had said that ‘it’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t’ because ‘we don’t really have any data whatsoever’”.

Says Smith: “Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee.”

Here’s to the pink elephant. Make that the pink middle-class camel. It was only last week that Dawn Primarolo, the Public Health Minister, noted that the middle-classes drink more than the poor and offered: “Most of these are not young people, they are ‘everyday’ drinkers who have drunk too much for too long. This has to change.”

The middle-classes sighed long and deep. It would have to be more prescription drugs from now on. Less booze in the suburbs. Less slow death. More suicides. Without the anaesthetic of gin and tonic Surrey (top of the drinking scores) would be emptied, a land of lost souls and mass graves.

But now you and we all can drink. Raise a glass to the boys in Paris and the girls on Strictly Come Dancing – it’ll help you swallow the Government line…



Posted: 20th, October 2007 | In: Broadsheets Comments (5) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink