Stagger drinking time through week, says Wales' health chief

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Media captionNew alcohol guidelines: Are you drinking more than you think?

Drinkers are being advised by health officials to stagger their alcohol intake through the week.

Wales' chief medical officer Dr Ruth Hussey has joined her UK colleagues in updating 20-year-old guidelines.

One recommendation is not to "save up" 14 units of alcohol to drink on one or two days.

Also the often reported view that one or two glasses of red wine can protect against heart disease was "less significant" than previously thought.

The proposed changes in the guidelines are out to a UK-wide consultation until April.

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Media captionDr Hussey said updating 20-year-old guidelines will help people rethink their relationship with alcohol

The guidelines suggest:

  • A single guideline for men and women: This will now be 14 units a week for both - about six pints of standard strength beer/lager or seven 175ml glasses of wine.
  • Alcohol intake of those 14 units should be spread over three or more days.
  • That there is no "safe" level amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. Dr Hussey last year advised that it was simpler for pregnant women to cut out alcohol altogether.

The Change4Life Wales alcohol campaign is already encouraging people to have at least two alcohol-free days a week.

Dr Hussey said they "draw on the latest evidence on how different levels of drinking affect health risks for individuals".

She said they were there for people "to make informed decisions about their drinking".

Earlier this week, the Welsh government launched a three year strategy to tackle substance and alcohol abuse, including "risky drinking behaviour" among the under 24s and older people.

Hospital admissions in Wales for the over 50s with alcohol issues have increased for a third year running.

The Department of Health is leading the consultation but Mark Bellis, director of policy at Public Health Wales, is involved in developing the guidelines.

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