84% of Australians drink within recommended guidelines
8 May 2019
ASTONISHING claims today, based on a survey of 1800 people, that Australia's drinking culture is out of control.
The official Australian Government data paints a very different picture, says Brewers Association of Australia CEO Brett Heffernan.
The facts and their sources follow...
84% of Australians drink within recommended guidelines. That's no more than two standard drinks per day.
Significantly fewer people in Australia drink alcohol in quantities that exceed lifetime risk – down to 16% in 2017-18 from 21% in 2004. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18, December 2018).
By definition, that puts binge drinking at 16%. Still too high but clearly tracking downwards, showing today's claims of high and increasing rates to be way off the mark.
The ABS also reports that Australians today are drinking less alcohol than at any point in the last 55 years. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, Apparent Consumption of Alcohol 2016-17, September 2018).
In fact, we're drinking around 30% less alcohol today compared to the 1970s.
Around 40% of Australians consume alcohol weekly. Just 6% drink daily – down from 9% in 2007. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016, September 2017).
82% of teens do not drink any alcohol at all. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016, September 2017).
This is the highest abstinence rate on record and a dramatic improvement on the 54% in 2004. In fact, teens are putting off trying a drink later than ever and, if they do try it, they are drinking less than ever.
The AIHW table (above) details the decline in teen drinking patterns over 2004 to 2016.
No-one is saying there aren't issues with alcohol. There are and more needs to be done to tackle the array of social and cultural drivers leading some people to drink at excessive levels.
But the over-hyped and alarmist claims bandied around today simply do not stack up to scrutiny. They are a far cry from reality. They also do Australians, who have clearly heeded the responsible consumption message, no favours in misrepresenting them.
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