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Standard Drink Knowledge Lacking in New Zealand


New research commissioned by Lion’s Alcohol&Me* programme has identified that most Kiwis don’t know what a standard drink is, and even those that think they do, can’t accurately communicate what it means.

Understanding standard drinks is the key to people drinking responsibly, and the research of 800 Kiwis found most people don’t understand it well enough. Respondents couldn’t accurately say how many standard drinks are in the most common alcohol beverages and three quarters were unfamiliar with the nation’s recommended healthy drinking guidelines.

There was also a lot of confusion around the drink driving limit in NZ, with only 17% of respondents getting it right. Most respondents had a number of drinks they thought they could consume and still be safe to drive with only 11% correctly pointed out that there is no set number – a variety of factors impact whether you’re safe to get behind a wheel.

Jude Walter from Alcohol&Me comments, “This survey highlights there is a real opportunity to educate Kiwis in a way that resonates. Put simply, an adult body can only process one standard drink an hour, regardless of your age, size or how much you’ve eaten and there’s no way to speed that up. So when you’re drinking a typical 5% bottle of beer or cider at a bar or BBQ, it will take the body 1.3 hours to process the alcohol in that bottle. The standard drink information is printed on every label of alcohol sold in NZ so if you have a drink in your hand, you have the key info you need right at your fingertips to make smart drinking choices!

“Connecting with others has never been more important as lives get busier so it’s not about encouraging people to stop drinking or getting them to steer away from the pub. We want to help Kiwis to understand what they’re drinking so they can make the good times last longer when they are socialising. Knowing what a standard drink is, is crucial to this. Alcohol&Me helps sift through all the confusion to give people easy access to practical, real life tools and tips that can help them drink smarter.”

The report found that, despite a lack of knowledge, a quarter say they will be drinking less in 2019 and a fifth are considering low alcohol products to help moderate their drinking. Nearly two in five are already drinking low alcohol products weekly or monthly – with the number one reason being a desire not to get drunk (nearly 45%).

Pubs, bars and supermarkets across the country are taking note and increasingly acknowledging that a more comprehensive offering, including low and non-alcoholic options, is a great way to support this growing trend and provide a responsible drinking environment. Recent Nielsen data shows that ‘lighter beer options’ are growing in value and volume by about 20% and products like Kombucha have skyrocketed – growing at a whopping 800% over a two-year period to June 2018.

To help you make smarter drinking choices or honour your health focused New Year’s resolutions, head to alcoholandme.org.nz to take the online course or arrange a face to face training for your business. You can also check them on Facebook (AlcoholAndMe).

*The research was conducted by research agency Fiftyfive5 in November 2018, surveying 797 adult New Zealanders.

About Alcohol&Me

Alcohol&Me is a highly interactive programme created by Lion NZ to help Kiwis understand alcohol and how it affects your body and mind, so people can make the choices that are right for them when it comes to drinking alcohol. Alcohol&Me trained over 24,000 Kiwis since it was launched in 2015.

About Lion NZ

Lion can trace its roots in New Zealand back to 1840. It is the country’s leading alcohol beverage company with brands including Speight’s, Emerson’s, Wither Hills, Steinlager, Havana Coffee and Hopt Soda. The company employs around 1,200 people across its head office and The Pride in Auckland, Speight's, Harrington’s, The Fermentist, Emerson’s and Panhead breweries, the Wither Hills winery, Havana Coffee Works and its Liquor King stores. Lion has both the Gender and Rainbow Tick and has won many awards for closing the gender pay gap and embedding flexible working into the business. It is a founding member of responsible drinking charity Cheers!, runs its own alcohol education platform called Alcohol&Me and provides funding to support Health Promotion Agency’s moderation programmes. For more information on Lion NZ, visit our website.
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