2 drinks a week? US could tighten alcohol guidelines, national director says

(WJW) — Some hard news for those who like to imbibe adult beverages from time to time — the United States may soon change its alcohol guidelines.

Current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, which have been in place since the 1990s, stipulate that men should stick to no more than two alcoholic beverages a day, while women should cut themselves off after one drink.

But Dr. George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, recently told the Daily Mail the U.S. could follow a recent move by Canada. The country recently adjusted its recommendations, suggesting people limit themselves to two alcoholic drinks in a week’s time (down from the previous 15 weekly drinks for men and 10 for women) in order to reduce health risks associated with drinking.

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Koob, who admitted to having a couple of glasses of wine a week, said that when the U.S.’s alcohol consumption guidelines are reviewed again for the 2025 national guidelines, they’re likely not going to increase. Instead, if the guidelines do change, we may see recommendations like those Canada recently released.

“So, if [alcohol consumption guidelines] go in any direction, it would be toward Canada,” he told the outlet.

Koob also noted that alcohol does not offer benefits to one’s health.

“Most of the benefits people attribute to alcohol, we feel they really have more to do with what someone’s eating rather than what they’re drinking,” Koob told the Daily Mail, pointing to things like a healthy diet and socio-economic status affecting health outcomes.

This comes as a study out of the University of Michigan shows binge drinking is on the rise across the country in people 35 to 50.

The Monitoring the Future panel study looks at substance use behaviors, and 2022 reportedly saw “the highest prevalence of binge drinking ever recorded” — at 29% — for that age group since the study began in the 1970s. Meanwhile, those 19-30 are less likely to drink and more likely to use marijuana and vaping products.

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The alcohol consumption recommendations could be adjusted in the next version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which may not be available until the end of 2025. There aren’t any legal ramifications for not adhering to the guidelines, and it doesn’t mean non-drinkers need to start drinking — instead, the guidelines are suggestions for a healthy lifestyle.

When asked about Koob’s remarks on Monday during a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to weigh in, instead saying she would “leave it to the experts.”

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