Lower Alcohol Content In Beer?

Researchers say decreasing the alcohol content in beer may reduce their harmful side effects.

Alcohol causes disability and death around the world. Nearly 25 percent of deaths between the ages of 20 and 39 are due to alcohol.

Jurgen Rehm is the Director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research with Center for Addiction and Mental Health. He found that lower levels of ethanol, the most destructive ingredient in alcoholic beverages, would prompt lower blood-alcohol levels. That would lessen the risk of accidents and alcohol-related diseases such as liver cirrhosis.

One concern is that consumers would see the lower alcohol content and drink more to compensate.  They may also drink beverages with more alcohol. The study suggests that this would not happen.

The specialists noted that in parts of Australia, there are higher taxes on alcohol items with more than three percent ethanol. The tax led to more access to the weaker beer. Producers are more likely to support lower alcohol content rather than paying higher taxes and having more restrictions.

Rehm said “The proposal presents a unique situation, where public health interests in reducing alcohol consumption are not in conflict with the alcohol industry,”

Joy Dubost is a senior executive for science and outside issues at the Beer Institute, which represents all brewers. She says “Light beer is the largest segment of beer sold in the U.S. and is lower [with 4.2 percent alcohol] than the average of all beer sold in the U.S. at 4.6 percent.”She added that it is much less than the alcohol content in liquor.

Dubost said the establishment encourages “moderate consumption for legal drinking age adults.”