The recently released Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) will be taken into consideration by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture. The federal agencies will decide whether or not to change the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. The Committee hopes the report will help the agencies develop a “culture of health” in the US, stating that “dramatic paradigm shifts are needed” to help Americans make better dietary and lifestyle choices to improve health.
As far as alcohol is concerned, the Committee does not seem to have strayed from the advice/ comments of its predecessors or come to any dramatic new conclusions. “The overall body of evidence” DGAC reviewed “identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher” in some components, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains and “moderate in alcohol (among adults).” More specifically, the expert committee “confirmed” that “moderate alcohol intake can be a component of a healthy dietary pattern” but should be consumed only by adults, and that “it is not recommended” that anyone start drinking or to drink more often for “potential health benefits.” Why not? “Because moderate intake also is associated with increased risk of violence, drowning and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.” The Committee also cites a “moderately increased risk of breast cancer” even with moderate drinking.
Then too, the report lists some of the “many circumstances” where adults should not drink at all, including: those who cannot “restrict their drinking to moderate levels”; pregnant women; those under the legal drinking age; people taking prescription medicines; those with certain medical conditions; and anyone who plans to drive, operate machinery or do anything that requires motor, skills, attention, good judgment. Breastfeeding women should be “very cautious” about drinking. But because of the health benefits of breastfeeding, “occasionally consuming an alcoholic drink does not warrant stopping breastfeeding,” the Committee advises. While there’s not much new about alcohol in the report, there is some discussion of energy drinks and the risks of mixing them with alcohol.
What about “standard” drinks? Recall that the Beer Institute filed comments that recommended any revisions to the 2010 Guidelines drop references to a standard or typical drink. BI even developed an extensive new “Know Your Drink” approach to the issue. The expert Committee does not comment on the issue, though the report’s glossary continues to define a drink as “12 fl oz of regular beer, 5 fl oz of wine or 1.5 fl oz of distilled spirits.” Beer Institute will continue to support “Know Your Drink” with the agencies’ staffs which will make any final decisions. Those who support “standard” drink will no doubt do the same.