Feeds

MPs probe science behind bogus gov booze guidelines

Write in to save your pub, and maybe lower beer prices!

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Science Committee MPs are to investigate the "evidence base" behind the Government's guidelines on alcohol consumption.

A thorough investigation is long overdue, as the Puritanical advice of the doctor's union, the BMA, long ago diverged from the scientific evidence. And there are signs that this inquiry may have teeth. The Commons Science and Technology Committee says it wants to find out more about the evidence base, how these sources could be improved, and how the UK compares to other countries.

One aspect absent from the call for submissions is the close relationship between the academic community and policy makers. Governments sponsor academics to produce "science" of dubious quality to support conclusions reached in advance, what you might call "policy-based evidence-making". We recounted one example of that here related to minimum pricing for alcohol.

The Sheffield meta-study specially commissioned to support the policy buried evidence that moderate alcohol consumption lowers chances of heart disease and strokes. This is called the "French Paradox": France has the sixth-highest level of alcohol consumption in the world, and a notoriously fatty diet, but the heart disease rate is a third of that in the UK.

The Sheffield study admitted that "four out of five cohort studies showed statistically significant reduction of all causes of mortality between 15 per cent and 25 per cent for moderate drinking". And "moderate" was around three pints of beer a day for men, or two glasses of wine for women, per day. The relative risk ratio of beer drinkers developing coronary heart disease is 0.7 (compared to 1.0 for lifelong abstainers), according to studies, and moderate drinking provides a protective function against ischemic strokes, too.

Subsequent studies stubbornly support the conclusions.

If policy makers followed the evidence base, they would advise men and women over 45 to drink more. Yet last week, the BMA called for shorter opening hours of pubs and off-licences, a total ban on alcohol advertising, and higher alcohol pricing. Much energy is devoted to the low-hanging fruit of junk science, such as homeopathy, yet there seems to be a reluctance to tackle the institutional junk.

The Committee is welcoming written submissions of up to 3,000 words by Wednesday 14 September 2011. The details are here.

Please don't use a beer mat. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.