... So that You may be kept informed

FED: Alchohol intake guidelines "irrelevant" to young: survey

By Danny Rose, Medical Writer
04 Dec 2008 5:00 AM
Eds: Embargoed to 0500 AEDT, Thursday, December 4

SYDNEY, Dec 4 AAP - The emerging culture of binge drinking by young Australians won't be fixed by pointing them to official alcohol consumption guidelines, new research shows.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines, which give recommendations on how many standard drinks should be consumed in a day, were viewed as "irrelevant", said Dr Lyn Harrison of Deakin University.

"The rationale for these guidelines is that once people get the information, they will act on it and change their behaviour," she said.

"Yet the data from the young people in our study, shows that this is not necessarily the case."

Sixty young Victorian drinkers - 20 each from Melbourne, Geelong and Warrnambool - were quizzed for their views on their alcohol intake and it included the relevancy of the NHMRC guidelines.

Dr Harrison said young people aged 20 to 24, with an equal split between men and women, commonly linked their alcohol consumption to notions of socialising, fun and pleasure while they also spoke of the value of individual choice.

A typical response was: `Don't tell me what to do, it's my life, it's in my hands, let me do it and suffer the consequences.'

"This culture is at odds with the authoritarian, top-down approach to things - like the NHMRC guidelines.

"You also have to ask how many people, not just young people, go out and have only two standard drinks."

Dr Harrison also said that many young people believed they unfairly faced a negative stereotype in relation to youth drunkenness, when many felt they made sensible choices about alcohol.

"For example, they won't drink and drive or will abstain from drinking during the week or before important exams," she said.

The survey was part of a wider research project into the cultural drivers of young people's drinking, funded by Drinkwise Australia.

The NHMRC guidelines state that males should consume an average of no more than four standard drinks a day, while for women it is two standard drinks.

Everyone is urged to have "one or two alcohol-free days per week".