Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Stand up and be counted

It’s good to see someone from the drinks industry being prepared to stand up and challenge the ludicrous “alcohol health guidelines” that have been drawn up by the neo-Prohibitionists of the medical profession. Neil Robertson, the chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, has condemned the views of leading doctors on the alcohol debate as “misguided” and “ill-informed”, and suggested further draconian measures could shut up to 10,000 pubs. At least 10,000 pubs, I would have thought.

He also points out that the average alcohol consumption in the medical profession is 26 units per week, which is above their own guidelines. Given the high proportion of non-drinking Muslims in the profession, those who do drink must be way above the guidelines. Funny how they don’t practice what they preach – probably, deep down, they realise what nonsense these figures are.

Unless both drinks industry bodies and consumer representatives are prepared to challenge the torrent of questionable so-called health information about alcohol, the future for responsible drinkers, drinks producers and retailers, will be very bleak.

As I have posted before, these alcohol limits were in effect plucked out of the air and have no real scientific basis. But, even if you accept they do have some validity, surely their intent is to represent an ideal as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, not to define the boundary of acceptable behaviour. If a nutritionist were to draw up an ideal healthy diet, it probably wouldn’t include any crisps or chocolate, but if someone occasionally eats a packet of Walkers or a Mars Bar it doesn’t mean they have an eating disorder. Yet we are increasingly seeing the alcohol guidelines treated as Holy Writ, and anyone who exceeds them from time to time branded as irresponsible and a problem drinker.

It needs to be said loud and clear that drinking alcohol in moderation is not harmful to health, and the official guidelines are not a hard-and-fast definition of the bounds of moderation.

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