Page last updated: July 9, 2013

Alcoholic beverage consumption by adults compared to dietary guidelines

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) state that if alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation, which is defined as up to two drinks in a single day for men and one drink for women. (1 drink=14 g of ethanol).

A study by Eric Rimm, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues estimated the percentages of adults who, on a given day, drank more than these limits and the percentages who drank too heavily; that is, more than four drinks for men and more than three for women.

The study analysed dietary intake data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2010. 24-hour dietary recalls were collected from 2,740 men and 2,941 women, age 21 years and older. Results were weighted to be nationally representative. Estimated mean daily intake was 1.2 drinks for men and 0.4 for women.

 Results of the analysis indicated that on a given day, 36% of men and 21% of women consumed alcohol. 82% of men and 89% of women did not exceed the DGA’s limits, 7% of men had more than four drinks, and 3% of women had more than three, amounts defined as heavy. The percentages who drank more than the DGA’s limits varied by age group and were highest among men age 31 to 50 years and women age 51 to 70 years.

The authors state that excessive drinking is an important health problem and is not limited to college-age individuals. Registered dietitians and other health professionals should be aware of excessive drinking by the adult US population.

Source: Alcoholic beverage consumption by adults compared to dietary guidelines: results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2010 Guenther PM; Ding EL; Rimm EB Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Early online 13 Feb 2013. › AM2012

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