A paper published in The Lancet recommended Government seeks to ensure any advice on recommended alcohol consumption is “useful and meaningful to drinkers”.
Researchers at Sheffield and Stirling universities, in association with the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, conducted 12 focus groups of drinkers aged 19 to 64 years old. Participants were asked about their awareness of the current drinking guidelines, their views on the purpose of guidelines, how they interpret and use the guidelines, and other strategies they have for regulating their alcohol consumption.
The study found participants disregarded the drinking guidelines for two main reasons.
First, the guidelines were regarded as irrelevant to their existing drinking practices. Second, participants perceived a lack of information on the scientific evidence behind the guidelines and the consequences of exceeding them.
The study said: "Governments need to ensure that guidance they provide on alcohol consumption is useful and meaningful to drinkers, and understand how people use it to inform their behaviour. Our findings suggest a disconnect between the drinking guidelines and commonplace drinking practices, and a credibility gap that is a barrier to the guidelines’ effective use.
"People responsible for developing and designing drinking guidelines should seek to better reflect drinking practices and evidence concerns when communicating guidance."