Harvard Alcohol Researcher and Noted Dietician Discuss Alcohol in the Adult Diet at NY Media Briefing
New York – Renowned alcohol researcher Dr. Eric Rimm of Harvard School of Public Health and Marianne Smith Edge, President of MSE & Associates, LLC and the immediate past president of the American Dietetic Association, discussed the latest science on alcohol and health, as well as the newly-revised U.S. Dietary Guidelines to reporters during a spirits and food pairing briefing today at New York’s Aquavit restaurant. “Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower risk of coronary disease, diabetes, and stroke, with accumulating evidence to also suggest potential benefits for cognitive function and dementia. A large body of scientific evidence suggests that alcohol can be part of a healthy adult lifestyle, but this must be balanced with the known detrimental effects of excessive consumption. The science makes it clear that the potential risks and benefits are the same for spirits, beer and wine,” said Eric B. Rimm, Sc.D., Harvard School of Public Health. “All told, the Dietary Guidelines note the importance of sensible lifestyle choices, which together can lower risk of chronic disease.” “According to the Dietary Guidelines, if one chooses to drink, moderate alcohol consumption can be incorporated into a healthy adult diet without compromising diet quality. The Guidelines provide consumers with useful information about alcohol including the definition of moderation, what counts as a standard drink of spirits, beer, and wine and the calorie count for each,” said Registered Dietitian Marianne Smith Edge, President of MSE & Associates, LLC and immediate past president of the American Dietetic Association. “As we head into April, which is Alcohol Awareness Month, this briefing is meant to underscore the Federal Government’s guidance on alcohol consumption in the adult diet, which is ‘if you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation,’” said Dr. Monica Gourovitch, Senior Vice President of Scientific Affairs of the Distilled Spirits Council which hosted the event. During their remarks, the presenters addressed the following topics: An overview of the newly-revised 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the science underlying the alcohol guideline. The Guidelines, released jointly every five years by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS), serve as the basis for nutrition policy in the United States. According to the Guidelines, “The consumption of alcohol can have beneficial or harmful effects depending on the amount consumed, age and other characteristics of the person consuming the alcohol and the specifics of the situation.” Moderation is defined as: Up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. One drink counts as: 12 fluid oz. of regular beer, 5 fluid oz. of wine or 1.5 fluid oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits. A recent American Medical Women’s Association survey found that 95 percent of members surveyed said it was important that people understand the standard drink definition to guide responsible decisions about drinking and 80 percent of these doctors believe that most adults do not know the facts of alcohol equivalence. USDA and HHS are soon to announce a new graphic representation of the Food Guide Pyramid, the first time changes have been made to the graphic illustration of the Dietary Guidelines since its inception in 1992. People should not choose to drink alcohol for health reasons and we have always encouraged those adults who choose to drink to do so responsibly and in moderation, Gourovitch noted. Alcohol abuse can cause serious health and other problems and even drinking in moderation may pose health risks. Some individuals should not drink at all, she said.