[Via Huffington Post Canada]
Summer is upon us again (though not officially yet… give it a couple weeks). For most Canadians, a lot of summer activities this year will involve some alcoholic beverages… Though if you ask how many, you’re likely to hear back “Oh no, I haven’t had THAT much to drink.”
As it turns out, us Canadians love to drink, but we tend to downplay the amount we drink. It’s like we’re tanks, but don’t want anyone to know… It’s interesting to me because, being a young man, I’m so used to hearing people brag about how much they’ve had to drink, how drunk they got the night before, how hungover they are, etc. etc. For example, one night a few years back, my roommate went to a party and drank an entire bottle of Jägermeister to himself over a couple hours. He did it, admittedly, to “try and impress a college girl with how much I can drink.” It didn’t work, and he missed a day of work the next day thanks to it.
But I digress…
It turns out Canadians lowball the amount of alcohol they drink by up to a whopping 75 per cent, especially when it comes to wine.
A study by the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria said that’s a problem because surveys of alcohol consumption are crucial to estimating disease and injury caused by people’s favourite recreational drug.
The centre’s director, Tim Stockwell, said it’s easier for society to ignore the risks associated with alcohol consumption when policies are based on a gross underestimation of how much people actually drink.
The study, published in the journal Addiction, found that Canadians under age 24 are most likely to under-report how much alcohol they drink, and there’s no difference in the amounts of lowballing by men and women.
So gender does not play a role, but your geographical location might.
Canadians in the North are likely to drink an average of 13 litres or more and residents in Eastern Canada drink the least compared to national figures — possibly because of the price of alcohol.
National low-risk guidelines in Canada recommend women have no more than two drinks a day, or 10 a week, and that men consume no more than three a day, or 15 drinks a week.
Stockwell said wine drinkers were more likely to under-report their consumption, possibly because unlike beer in a bottle or can, the size of a drink of wine is not fixed.
“People have their wine topped up so it’s very hard to keep track of it.”
Top-ups, forgetfulness, and friends who like to mix your drinks strong… It’s a perfect storm out there for folks trying to keep track. Could some changes to labeling help things?
Unlike in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, labels on bottles of alcohol in Canada, and the United States, don’t include the number of standard drinks, making it hard to gauge how much guzzling is going on.
“So Canadians generally have a very poor, misty idea of how much they drink,” Stockwell said.
The study results could lead to better policies regarding alcohol, which he said causes about 10 times more harm compared to illicit drugs.
Gerald Thomas, an alcohol researcher associated with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse in Ottawa, said the study results show that while there is often a focus on alcoholics, there should also be more of a recognition about people who overdrink, often leading to health risks and violence.
Be careful out there, friends.