Which is it?

Published: Jan 13 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

Everybody should be advised to take at least two drink-free days a week, say MPs, who urge in a report that safe drinking guidelines should be revised because they are confusing. Even more confusing after a couple of beers!

The House of Commons science and technology committee says awareness of the existence of the guidelines is high, but public understanding of what they mean is poor. More help is needed so that drinkers understand what a unit of alcohol actually looks like, so they can have an idea of how many units they are drinking in a pint of beer, glass of wine or shot of vodka.

In 1987, when alcohol guidance was published, it was set out as a maximum advised number of units per week, which was 21 for men and 14 for women.

However, studies published in the early 1990s suggested some alcohol might be good for the heart. This, says the committee, led to a reframing of the guidance as a daily intake: no more than three to four units a day for men and two to three for women. Those who drink the maximum every day are therefore well above the earlier limits.

Well which is it? Who knows? To an extent it depends on who you ask and where in the world you happen to be. (Interestingly the recommended allowances differ in different countries. I am thinking of moving to Australia, I will be a moderate drinking health nut there).

The problem with being vague is that it allows us to pick out the bits that work best for us, and at worst the information or proposals are completely ignored.

When negotiators make a proposal the best advice we can give is to be very clear and specific about what your proposal is. Getting the structure of your proposals right is one of the most effective lessons you can learn, and gives the proposer both power and control.

Getting what you want takes preparation and thought. Decide exactly what you want before you go about finding the means of getting it.

Alan Smith


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