'Mind the gap': observations in the absence of guidelines for alcohol abstinence among expectant women in South Africa

OUTPUT TYPE: Policy briefs
TITLE AUTHOR(S): L.Jacobs, N.Steyn, D.Labadarios
Intranet: HSRC Library: shelf number 7682
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/3008
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/3008

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This policy brief examines the alcohol consumption policies of the National Department of Health's approach to alcohol use in South Africa. In particular, it focuses on the food-based dietary guideline (FBDG) on alcohol promulgated by the Department of Health in 2001: 'If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly.' This guideline was re-evaluated in 2011 and the revised FBDG recommended that there should be no alcohol guidelines at all. The evaluation processes for both meetings comprised an 'expert working group' on alcohol consumption and a literature search on alcohol consumption in South Africa with particular reference to alcohols known adverse impacts (when abused) and benefits (when consumed as part of one's diet) on health. There are many adverse effects of heavy alcohol consumption reported (for instance, risk to HIV infection, malnutrition and loss of employment). This brief, however, focuses on four adverse effects of alcohol abuse in relation to the burden experienced by South Africa, namely: high alcohol consumption levels; foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD); health and psychosocial concerns; and social effects of alcohol abuse.