The Government’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advice on Alcohol: If You Drink Alcoholic Beverages, Do So in Moderation

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 12, 2005 – The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released today by the Federal government, includes its longstanding dietary guidance on beverage alcohol consumption: “If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.” “While nutrition advice for various foods groups has changed over the years, the Federal government’s Dietary Guidelines advice for alcohol consumption has remained the same since its inception in 1980 – ‘if you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation,”’ said Dr. Monica Gourovitch, Distilled Spirits Council Senior Vice President of Scientific Affairs. “This Federal guideline — as true today as it was 25 years ago — has been the centerpiece of education programs supported by the distillers over the decades.” Since the release of the 2000 Guidelines, the Distilled Spirits Council has distributed several thousand copies of the full Dietary Guidelines and several thousand additional copies of the alcohol guideline to physicians, nutritionists and other health professionals. Consistent with past versions of the government’s Dietary Guidelines, the 2005 Guidelines define moderate drinking as no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. Abstention is an option and some people should not drink at all. The Guidelines also discuss the potential risks and benefits associated with alcohol consumption. The Guidelines define a drink as 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of regular beer and do not differentiate among the health effects of distilled spirits, beer or wine. This scientific fact, known as “beverage alcohol equivalence,” is a critical aspect of responsible drinking. “By including the definition of a standard drink, the government is doing its part to underscore to the American public the scientific fact that alcohol is alcohol,” said Gourovitch. “The bottom line is – there is no beverage of moderation, only a practice of moderation and we will continue to do our part to deliver this important public health message as well as distribute the Guidelines to health professionals.” The Dietary Guidelines, which is revised and released jointly every five years by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, serves as the basis for nutrition policy in the United States.