Is the concern alcoholic drinks per day or total alcohol consumption?

(Photo by Jamie Thistlethwaite/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Thistlethwaite/Getty Images) /

Should people be concerned about alcoholic drinks per day or total alcohol consumption?

While the new U.S. dietary guidelines did not revise the alcoholic drinks per day recommendations, another question remains unanswered. Although people might prefer the notion of one alcoholic drink per day versus the current two drinks per day guideline, a bigger question was not addressed. What about the person who drinks his daily drink allotment in one day? Shouldn’t total alcohol consumption be a factor, too?

With all the studies from various entities, finding a definitive answer on recommended alcohol consumption can create more questions than answers. Some studies tout the benefits of red wine. Other studies show an occasional cocktail does no harm. For people who choose to imbibe, they can find a study that fits the answer that they are seeking.

Since many people are focusing on the U.S. dietary restrictions that did not reduce the recommended alcohol consumption levels from two drinks a day to one drink a day, it seems to address one aspect of alcohol consumption, the daily drink. Putting aside people who over-indulge, that daily drink allowance has been used by other people to “pool” their beverage consumption. If they can have one a day, why can’t they save several of those “ones” for a single night.

Instead of focusing on the per day number, why doesn’t the guidelines focus on a total consumption level. Just like the total number of calories per day, shouldn’t their be a total number of ounces consumed? Since people get confused with various rules, guidelines and restrictions, a simple methodology applied across all aspects could make the guidelines more understandable as well as easier to adopt.

For example, the old school idea for calories is a simple math equation. Basically, totally calories in should equal total calories out. For example, if you want to lose weight, you need to reduce the number of calories consumed or increase the output via exercise.

Why can’t the alcohol consumption guidelines work in a similar way? Granted, no one is saying that anyone should consume five drinks in a single evening. But, what if the guidelines were a person should not have more than 24 ounces of beer per week. That number is measurable and understandable.

If the organizations want to impact how and what people consume, the recommendations need to be easy to follow. The guideline a drink or two a day is too vague. To simplify it even more, make it a visual. Given that the world communications in soundbites, it needs to be concise and clear. Until that idea comes through, there will be no change in consumption habits.

light. Related Story. Is there an easy way to get on the healthy eating track?

What do you think of the U.S. guidelines on alcoholic drinks per day? Do you drink more than one drink a day?