Identify the standard drink and the differences in low-risk drinking guidelines for adults and older adults around the world according to sex and country-income level.
A search for standard drink definitions and low-risk drinking guidelines for adults and older people in current governmental documents was undertaken; items sought: (1) low-risk drinking guidelines for different age groups and sex; (2) definitions of a standard drink in grams of alcohol; (3) country-income level; (4) whether there was a national action plan for alcohol; (5) identification of particular vulnerable groups.
Of the 194 countries in the world, the authors were able to identify 58 that have low-risk drinking guidelines, 60.3% being high-income, 32.8% upper-middle-income, and 6.9% low-middle-income countries (no guidelines were found in low-income countries). Definitions of a standard drink ranged from 8 to 20 g. Low-risk drinking guidelines (grams/week) ranged substantiality: from 15 to 170 g for women and from 15 to 294 for men. For older adults, ranged from 70 to 204 for women and for men over 65 years of age.
Important differences among definitions of a standard drink and in low-risk drinking guidelines adopted by the countries were found. These differences can partially be explained by inherent aspects of each country; however, many guidelines do not seem to consider biological and social aspects or scientific evidence. In addition, it is important to highlight the lack of guidelines in low and low-middle income countries that would benefit from these measures.