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Only four drinks? – I don’t think so

Only four drinks? – I don’t think so

Media release – 4 May 2004

Many New Zealand drinkers are actually consuming much more alcohol than they realise according to new research released by the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC).

The study showed that New Zealanders who reported drinking, say, four drinks on their last occasion are actually drinking more like six and a half “standard” drinks.

ALAC Deputy Chief Executive Paula Snowden says that BRC Marketing & Social Research’s findings from a survey of 120 New Zealanders, who regularly consume more than recommended levels, demonstrate the gap between the perception and the reality of how much alcohol we drink.

“We asked them to show us, not just tell us, what they drink. We wanted to measure how much alcohol they consider to be ‘one glass’ and compare it with the official definition of a standard drink (10 grams of pure alcohol),” says Ms Snowden.

“There are a lot of people out there kidding themselves as they knock back their ‘bucket’ of wine or their ‘three-fingers’ of bourbon and tell themselves it was just one.”

The study found that: These drinkers, who reported consuming six drinks on their last occasion, had more like 10.1 standard drinks. The beer drinkers consume on average one and a quarter times more alcohol than they think they do. The wine drinkers consume on average twice as much alcohol than they think they do. The spirit drinkers consume on average twice as much alcohol than they think they do.

Overall, the group surveyed were actually consuming 1.6 times more alcohol on average than they thought they were.

“Based on this research, the 350,000 New Zealanders we identified in March who binge on seven or more drinks at a time are actually consuming close to 12 standard drinks. This is double the amount of alcohol ALAC recommends for men in one drinking occasion and triple that recommended for women,” says Ms Snowden.

“Drinking 12 cans of beer (330ml can, 4 per cent alcohol), or a bottle and a half of wine (750ml bottle, 13 per cent alcohol), or half a bottle of spirits (700ml bottle, 40 per cent alcohol), or more, in one sitting is risky, binging or just plain drunk.”

ALAC recommends people always check the label of the bottle or can to know how much alcohol they are really drinking, as the label advises on the number of standard drinks it contains.

The study also found that: 3.8 drinks (6.2 standard drinks) is considered “moderate” drinking. 7.4 drinks (12.1 standard drinks) is considered “drunk”. 8.6 drinks (14.0 standard drinks) is considered “heavy drinking”.


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