EP #148

Dietary Guidelines Around Alcohol with Dr. Amanda Berger, PhD

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode on alcohol guidelines with industry expert Dr. Amanda Berger, Molly Watts shares her own journey of overcoming family alcohol abuse and announces random prize giveaways for podcast reviews. Dr. Berger dives into updated dietary guidelines for alcohol, shedding light on industry involvement in shaping policies and emphasizing the importance of supporting sound science. From discussing the differences in alcohol metabolism between genders to critiquing the process of reviewing dietary guidelines, the episode explores the complexities of alcohol consumption recommendations. Amidst debates on safe levels of alcohol intake and misinformation surrounding guidelines, the conversation underscores the crucial role of accurate information and informed decision-making in promoting responsible drinking habits, leaving listeners empowered to create sustainable changes in their own drinking behaviors.

Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habits. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from a very cold and clear, right and sunny Oregon right now. It’s that kind of fall time that I just love when it’s really crisp in the morning. But it’s so bright, so clear. And then it’s in the high 50s low 60s In the afternoon Sunny, getting outside yesterday in the sunshine. It was just wonderful. And I love these dry days of fall. The rains are coming. It’s been here. It’ll be back. And more and more. Right? That’s okay, I’ll deal with it. I have some prize winners this week. Just as a reminder, if you would like to be entered into a drawing for some alcohol, minimalist swag, all you got to do is leave a review of this podcast or my book anywhere you listen, or anywhere you have picked up the book, I will find you and there are two opportunities to win. The first is the random prize generator. The random prize drawing is everybody that’s left a review anywhere anytime, gets entered into the drawing and I pick one person randomly every other week. And this week’s random prize winner is Abby loves it. That’s the name Abby loves it. If you are Abby loves it, you left a review of the podcast on Apple podcasts. I really appreciate it. And you can reach out to me Molly at Molly watts.com. Let me know that you are my random prize drawing winner. The I pick one winner each week to based on the review itself. And this week’s chosen winner is Callie runs. Callie runs left a review of the podcast or a comment on one of my sober October series episode on Spotify. And she says Molly’s podcast has truly been a life changer. I have learned so much about alcohol and the body, my thinking and the benefits of tiny changes. I feel so energized and empowered. Thank you, Molly. Well, thank you Callie runs it. Thank you Kelly runs for listening. Please email me, Molly at Molly watts.com. And I will mail you out your alcohol minimalist swag. All right, this week’s show this week, I am joined by Dr. Amanda Berger. And Amanda is the vice president of science for discuss which is the distilled spirits Council of the United States. This is just a fascinating conversation that I had with Amanda, regarding a couple of things, but really talking about the dietary changes or the dietary guidelines for including alcohol in your diet and what that’s going to look like there are some updated guidelines that will be coming out in 2025. And how discuss is involved with that and how the stakeholders in general for these conversations around making dietary guidelines. We also talk about some comments made by Dr. George Koop who is the head of the NIH a recently where he intimated that the United States might be following Canada’s lead in terms of the recommendations that came out in 2023. That it sounded like were the Canadian recommendations. And that isn’t exactly the way it’s all rolled out. And Amanda and I get into that as well. These kinds of conversations understanding how the alcohol industry functions in terms of policies and laws and decision Since regarding dietary guidelines, it’s important understanding the science behind the studies that you hear about and what’s really true and separating the fact from the the news headlines that were often delivered. This is all a part of the conversation that Amanda and I had. And I just appreciate her being willing to be on the show. Her position at discuss how incredible it is that they have a vice president of science, and how she helps influence and put out a message that allows us to use science to guide our decisions around alcohol. So I’ve yet to jump back on afterwards to wrap up my conversation because understanding how this all fits in with making, changing our relationship with alcohol is important. And I want to talk with you more about that. After you hear from Amanda Berger, here is Amanda Berger, Vice President of science with the distilled spirits Council of the United States. Good morning, Amanda, thank you so much for being here on the alcohol minimalist podcast. This is such an important conversation, and I am just delighted to be able to speak with you. Good morning, Molly. I’m so happy to be here. I’ve talked a lot on my podcast about kind of misinformation and truths around alcohol. And this whole, this whole idea of a fact and a truth and headlines that get get perpetuated in the media regarding alcohol and dietary guidelines. And recently, the reason that I got connected to you and reached out to you is because George Koop himself, the director of the NIH a made some comments that made it sound like the United States was getting ready to follow suit follow Canada’s lead, which is again, a kind of a misnomer in and of itself. We’ll talk about that too. But he made some comments that were pretty strong. And I wanted to get your take on that. And so I just wanted to hear more, you’ve been very involved in this work on dietary guidelines. So let’s talk a little bit about that. First, give me just the lowdown, what your specific role is at discuss and kind of what you are charged with doing and how that looks in terms of impacting the dietary guidelines when it comes to alcohol. Sure, so like winning it well, there’s a lot to cover. So yes, yeah. So I joined discuss the distilled spirits Council of the US about three years ago. And I oversee the science and health functions at at the association. And what that means it can range from global issues, World Health, World Health Organization, policies and strategies, state level. And then of course, federal level. So at the US level, and a lot of the US level of federal level work that I focus on, has to do with the dietary guidelines. The dietary guidelines have had recommendations for alcohol in them since the very first edition in 1980. And the recommendations themselves for moderate consumption have stayed the same for nearly four decades. The current definitions are up to one drink a day for females or a female, someone who’s assigned female at birth, and up to two drinks a day for somebody who’s assigned male at birth. Now, some people might think that that differences just because of body weight or size, but there actually are biological differences, that that play into that including how males and females metabolize alcohol. Females have less water in their body so they can reach a higher blood alcohol concentration or BAC faster. And then there are also different health outcomes that have that research has linked with alcohol consumption for males and females. So that that underpins the different definitions for males and females. And then, of course, the dietary guidelines also, list individuals who shouldn’t drink including people who have alcohol use disorder are on certain medications and direct people to talking to their own health care. providers. And that’s one of the reasons why we think the dietary guidelines are so important when it comes to alcohol recommendations because alcohol recommendations are not one size fits all. They’re meant to be a general set of guidelines. But ultimately, alcohol like any other behavior, or food or beverage or or lifestyle choice has risks and benefits that are not one size fits all. So the dietary guidelines are fantastic because they have provide a starting point for nutritionists, dieticians, health care providers, to give general guidance to consumers, to the to the individuals that they work with. And the adults who choose to drink but they also identify people who shouldn’t drink and and point people to their health care physicians for those decisions. And you you shared with me that discuss has a long history with being partnered and being this and and really being telling me more or share with my audience more about that history, because I think it’s really important to note that discuss specifically has has been a really good partner in terms of wanting to share that dietary information and share those recommendations with you know, you’re not out there. Just trying to get everybody to drink more. Is that a fair statement? Fair and Accurate? Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s something that people stand to be misinformed or stand or have a little bit of a jaded opinion regarding anybody that’s involved in the alcohol industry like right like you couldn’t be impartial and scientific about this because you have a vested interest in making sure people are still drinking. Yeah, you know, I can’t speak for the entire industry but for for discusses members for the for the producers and marketers of stilled spirits, the spirits industry has a strong commitment to preventing alcohol related harm, reducing harmful consumption of alcohol. One of our primary drivers is empowering adult consumers to make informed choices when it comes to alcohol. You know, there are some that might say that the industry can’t possibly care about reducing alcohol consumption, there’s you know, that that goes against their business model. But ultimately, the industry doesn’t want harmful consumption or harmful outcomes when it comes to their product. We promote responsibility, we point to the dietary guidelines, in terms of the recommendations around moderation. The federal definitions around what counts as excessive drinking, or binge drinking or alcohol use disorder. And those are all really helpful pieces of information that we use in our responsibility work where we create materials or communications that consumers can use, or the people who reach or or serve consumers can use to help them make safe, responsible decisions. You made reference to the partnership that we have on dietary guidelines in particular, and that’s something that we are very proud of. About two decades ago, USDA and HHS formed the first corporate partnership program for organizations that have a national reach or scope. And that can help disseminate the messages of the dietary guidelines. And that’s something that the US is really good at, in general, that public private partnership piece. You know, it’s something that the US stands out across the world as being one of the leaders when it comes to recognizing the value that the private sector and industry can can add and can supplement or complement. What the federal government themselves can do. And discuss was actually one of the firt one of the charter members of that corporate program, one of one of eight partners. And so over the years we have been very Are you proud to be a partner, we are currently a partner on the current dietary guidelines and the MyPlate program, the MyPlate program being the current framing for healthy dietary patterns that replaces the pyramid that I know many, many of us grew up with. And that partnership has grown. There are now dozens of organizations that range from other associations, individual companies, health and diet organizations. And in order to have that partnership, you have to apply to have that official standing. And you have to have proven, you have a history of disseminating the dietary guidelines, promoting the messages in the dietary guidelines and making a commitment to continue doing that. And so discuss has been able to show our years and years of work, creating consumer materials, fact sheets, brochures, websites, apps, materials for healthcare providers that that disseminate those messages. So we we consider that to be an incredibly important part of our role as an industry in terms of promoting responsibility and moderation when it comes to alcohol consumption for adults who choose to drink. One of the reasons that I wanted to have you on and have this conversation was a very recent statement made by George QUB. And this kind of idea, like you mentioned 2020. You also said like in 40 years, these guidelines haven’t really changed yet. It sounds like they have changed over time in people’s minds, they have changed. Does that seem does that seem true to you as well? I think there is quite a bit of confusion and misinformation around the dietary guidelines and what’s happening with them right now. And, you know, to be clear, discussed in the beverage alcohol industry, you know, we don’t work on the developing these guidelines. What we do is we support sound science, we support rigorous, unbiased, comprehensive and transparent reviews of science that go into developing those those dietary guidelines. And, right now, we’re in an in an unprecedented situation when it comes to the alcohol review. So to step back and just give them some background on on the dietary guidelines, the dietary guidelines are updated every five years. They’re overseen by HHS and USDA who take turns being the lead. There, they convene a panel of external experts to review the the questions that and the science that would go into the next edition of the dietary guidelines. And each edition starts from the previous version. In order to make a change, you have to meet a preponderance of evidence standard, which is jargony. But it’s an important piece to this, where there has to really be a a strong rationale that is supported by the best and most recent science in order to make a change to the dietary guidelines. Now, not every topic gets reviewed every five years, they have to prioritize just in order to get the work done. There’s only so much you can do in those few short years in between each publication. And alcohol in 2020 was one of the topics that was supposed to get a review and there were eight questions identified for that review. There were five that looked at alcohol and health outcomes, and three that focused on alcohol and health outcomes for pregnant and lactating populations. Now what happens is the committee that is convened to look at each of these I set of questions for for each round of update. They are, by definition that they are generalists in many ways, they have to be able to have expertise on dietary patterns trician everything that would go into the dietary guidelines, which is much, much more than just alcohol recommendations. And so what happens is sometimes you may only get one person who has expertise in in the topic of alcohol. And that’s what happened in 2020 2020 review, there was only one person on the committee who had experience and expertise in alcohol research. And ultimately, the committee only answered one of the eight questions, citing lack of time resources, there were a number of other topics that were were focused on first. And so 2020 version did not get that complete review. Now, that becomes especially concerning because in 20, for 2015, alcohol was not one of the topics that was updated, which means that the last full review that has gone into the US Dietary Guidelines for alcohol was for the 2010 dietary guidelines. Now, if you think back to the resource that would go into that review, you’re looking at, at this point, 3040 year old research such as informed dietary guidelines. And so in 2020, that one question that was answered of the eight, the Dietary Guidelines Committee, advisory committee, based on that one question, which was looking at alcohol and all cause mortality, said, we recommend that you change the definition for moderation for males from two drinks a day down to one. Ultimately, the recommendations go to HHS and USDA, and they review, there’s peer review, there’s federal review. And they were able to say that the review that was completed of that one question of the eighth, there was not a preponderance of evidence of those findings to warrant a change. And so that recommendation was not taken. There are other recommendations, over the years that haven’t been taken as well, for the same reasons you got, there’s not strong enough evidence or new or differing evidence to make a change, a change won’t be made. But that did cause cause a stir, and it got quite a bit of media attention at the time. The fact that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee made a recommendation and it was implemented. Yeah, along with some other topics that came up that received attention. Congress commissioned a report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and medicine, for them to evaluate what happened in the 2020 process, and to make recommendations for 2025. That comes after two reports that had preceded the 2020 dietary guidelines that Congress had commissioned from the National Academies to make recommendations for what the process looked like. And that included both the selection of those committee members and the review process itself. All three of those reports that came out of it, so the two prior to 2020, and then the one post 2020, that evaluated what actually happened. One of the recommendations that was consistent across all of them was that for specialized topics, you need to convene a technical expert panel, you can’t just rely upon one person who may have some expertise in that topic. And alcohol is a specialized topic when it comes to the dietary guidelines. It is a little bit different than then some of the other components that are included. And so when the 2025 process kicked off, last year, an announcement was made that alcohol along with some other topics, would be reviewed in a separate process. So that’s unprecedented for alcohol. It’s not unprecedented for any topic. You know, there are other topics that are included in the dietary guidelines where the federal government has conducted work in other agencies and you know, to minimize duplication of effort and, and expenditure of resources. Instead of having them reinvent the wheel, they’ll draw from other federal work. And that has included topics like physical activity, human breast milk, frozen foods, food safety. And then other words are the National Academies work on including the Healthy Eating index dietary reference intake. So it’s not unheard of, for a topic to be examined outside of the normal dietary guidelines process. But that had never been the case before for alcohol, which is not a good thing, or is that I mean, it’s unprecedented. But is it perceived to be something that is necessary or or beneficial for the alcohol industry? Or is it somewhat? It would be better not to have it that way? I’m not sure I understand. I think that there has been concern from some, just because it’s the unknown. You know, we we still don’t fully know what the process is going to look like. And we’re now a year and a half into the regular work for the dietary guidelines. And so there’s still so many question marks that I think that has been causing concern. But ultimately, you know, the, the fact that alcohol will be getting dedicated attention from a group of experts, is a good thing. We it minimizes the risk of what happened in 2020, where you have one person, and you run out of time and resources, and you don’t answer the questions that that you that you need to. So you know, it’s a good thing, from, from our perspective, from discuss his perspective, anytime there is science and diverse expertise, and if focus review on on this topic, because that’s what the dietary guidelines should be based on, you know, discuss doesn’t support an outcome here, you know, we really aren’t going and lobbying for we want this to be what the definition is going to be. What we want is the definition, whatever it is, even if it does change, for moderation, to be grounded in the science, and to come from a transparent and and balanced review of the best and most recent evidence. So, you know, it is the question mark is concerning for many, but the fact that it’s getting dedicated attention is not a bad thing. That’s kind of I guess, brings us to this commentary that made the headlines recently, because, well, two things. So you and I had a conversation previously about the whole Canada situation. And I’d love to hear your take on that, because I think it’s it’s extremely valid. And then the reference that George Koop made, intimating that potentially the United States could follow Canada’s lead, quote, unquote, and that was kind of what he said. And so let’s talk a little bit about exactly what has happened in Canada, because prior to I mean, contrary to what many people may think they know about what’s happened in Canada, it’s probably not accurate. And the problems that you have with that statement that Dr. Koop made, even even now, which seem very premature, I think would be at least accurate from my perspective. Yeah. You know, at first I will say, you know, I think Dr. Koop was probably speaking off the cuff. You know, it. I don’t think that the media attention or that the story is about Dr. Koop himself. I think that the story here is that, you know, the top alcohol researcher in the federal government in the US seemed to be signaling to Americans that the dietary guidelines were changing, that decisions were already made are being made, and that they will to go and follow the direction of Canada. Now, the problem there is that those statements just aren’t accurate. You know, first, the the process. At the point where that comment, those comments were made, the process for the alcohol review has not had not picked off. So any indication, but even if just implied that decisions were made or being made, wasn’t accurate, and that’s something that the federal government has come out and said, since then, both, you know, and I AAA, so Dr. Qubes organization, as well as HHS and USDA, you know, have said, the alcohol process hasn’t kicked off. So this, this is not not true. The second piece that’s inaccurate is pointing to Canadian guidelines. There’s been a lot of misinformation and confusion about the Canadian guidelines. Canada has a set of what they call the low risk drinking guidelines. And they have been in place for over a decade. So they back around 2010 had had done a public consultation, and reviewed the science to come up with a set of low risk drinking guidelines for Canadians. And those guidelines have stayed the same ever since their guidelines are a little bit different than the moderation recommendations in the US. As I said in the US, it’s one up to wondering as a for females to for males, Canada’s recommendations are up to 10 drinks per week for females and up to 15 for males. So just a little bit different in terms of the framing and slight difference in that the overall number. And of course, the US has made a point to specify in the current dietary guidelines that the daily recommendations for the US are not meant to be taken as an average. You don’t want to have someone say, well, Monday through Saturday, I’m not going to have a drink. But come Sunday at you know, when I’m watching the big game, I’m gonna have all 14 of my drinks, if I’m a male. So, you know, a little bit different there. And then in a couple of years ago, Canada, so you know, about a decade later said, we’re going to do a review to see if we’re going to update our recommendations. And so they commissioned a report from an external group of experts, for them to review the science and to produce report with recommendations for the low risk drinking guidelines. Now, this group, which one of the leaders of the group was actually the sole alcohol expert in the 2020 dietary guidelines, whose recommendation was rejected? That group conducted a review, and you’ll hear a lot of talk around 6000 studies being used for that review. Ultimately, it was 16 studies. The others were excluded for various reasons, some of which are clear, and some of which are, are not so clear. So those 16 studies that this group used, they created a new set of recommendations that essentially would recommend two standard drinks per week. Now, that equates to three or four tablespoons of beer a day, you know, a tablespoon or two of wine a day. And anytime you have recommendations like that, or if you even go in the direction that some global organizations are going and saying, there’s no safe level. The problem with that is consumers throw them out. They’re not usable. They’re not realistic for consumers. And so they tossed them out and they say, Well, if it doesn’t matter if I have one drink or 10, because they’re saying there’s no safe level, I might as well have 10 So you know that that’s the One thing that the US has always been very thoughtful about when it comes to the dietary guidelines, they recognize that ultimately the dietary guidelines have to be realistic, they have to be usable, in order for them to have an impact. So this set of dietary or this recommendation from Canada, you know, was was met with a lot of concern from Canadians saying, this is, this is unheard of we we can’t we can’t do this. But the bigger issue is, they were being reported as Canada’s new guidelines. Right. Now, the Canadian government has actually not changed the guidelines, and they haven’t made any, any statement indicating that they are going to change the guidelines. So currently, if you go on to the Canadian government’s websites, you will still see the 2011 recommendations that came out of that 2010 consultation from the last round. So there’s been misinformation about this change in Canada. And for the comment that Dr. Poole made to indicate that the US would be going in that direction. You know, first, it’s not even the Canadians current set of guidelines. And and, you know, there are there are concerns around the science that went into that recommendation, as well. You know, there are our concerns about the rigor and the exclusion of 1000s of studies. You know, also some media have reported on potential conflicts of interest of the members of that of that group, including being funded by recognized temperance organizations, you know, so there are a lot of considerations in the Canadian reports right now. But the bottom line is, the US isn’t going to weigh in on them, the US isn’t going to blindly follow them. And even the Canadian government hasn’t adopted them. Which I think is really important. When I shared I shared this or shared information back on this back when it was happening, I was looking at it more from the perspective of the the mean of the studies that they went into it. And as per usual, they were making commentary that made it sound very scary, very threatening, and trying to this this kind of fear basis, that really was, to me the way that they the visuals, even that they tried to share with people in terms of the recommendations that they were making. And that’s the thing is just like you said, when we don’t make things accessible, when we don’t make things usable, many people just don’t want to, you know, will stop listening altogether. And so that’s the approach that I took it, but I was even even at that time, because I didn’t really even get a clear picture that the Canadian government hadn’t actually, I wondered how they were going to implement because it seemed like a, it seems like a very challenging thing, especially based on the way that provinces are set up and how they, they all the amount of money that they get from from alcohol on a provincial basis up in Canada, challenging for the government to come in and make new recommendations that are going to really severely impact that without good scientific basis. But again, I didn’t really make that so I’m very, very delighted to have you on and make that very clear distinction. Just a quick break to talk with you more about Sunnyside Did you know that Sunnyside uses science to help you reach your goals by focusing on three scientifically proven superpowers that you have. Number one, the power of pre commitment each week you set an intention for the week ahead. That includes a tracking goal, a drink goal and possibly a dry day goal. Number two, the power of conscious interference. You’ll learn the habit of tracking each day as soon as you finish it which creates a mindful pause before you start the next day. And number three positivity. We know that this is a big step that can be tough at times. Right. And that’s why Sunnyside offers coaching through SMS and email to give you support advice and motivation. You can check out a free 15 day trial at www.sunnyside.co/molly, that’s www.sunnyside.co/molly. It’s not to say that they aren’t going to make that change, but Right, they have not made the change. And they have not said that they are going to make the change. And so that’s where the confusion sets in, especially when the group that was commissioned to create the report are in the media, talking about their report, as if these are the new guidelines. And so, you know, that creates confusion, and frankly, can have unintended consequences. You know, again, when when consumers hear messages, like there’s no safe level, or you know, only a couple of tablespoons of beer a day, they throw out the recommendations, and then you have potential unintended consequences of harmful consumption actually increasing. The reason why we have definitions for moderation, or we have definitions for binge drinking. You know, these are our ways that help consumers and the people who serve consumers to give meaningful, useful guidance when it comes to alcohol for those who those adults who choose to drink. You know, and so when you when you see the Canadian report being talked about, or you know, even articles that have said, there’s no safe level, including some articles that have come out come from the US and have statements from top alcohol experts and organizations at the global level, including who who will say, there’s no safe level of alcohol. You know, again, that potential for unintended consequences is concerning. But more importantly, when you actually look at what’s behind that, that statement, what you see is cherry picking. And, you know, that’s, it’s something that the industry has long been accused of. And it’s, you know, one of the reasons why I said earlier, you know, we we don’t work with the government on creating the guidelines, we don’t do the alcohol review with their technical expert panel or their their advisory Advisory Committee. We support sound science, but we you know, we aren’t the ones who who are doing the work. And there aren’t many of me, in the industry. You know, what discuss is very lucky and fortunate to, and I’m fortunate to be with discuss in a place that that does prioritize science, and research enough to have a dedicated position for this. But you know, this, this statement of no safe level, what you see if you dig into it, is cherry picking, and oftentimes not citing anything at all, when it comes to that. And I think that’s something that we’ve seen happen where people have been seeing this statement, so long and so often that no one’s questioning it anymore. The foundations of this came from a 2018 study. There is a study called the Global Burden of Disease study that has been going on for years and years. It’s a gold standard study that looks at modifiable risk behaviors and health outcomes, hundreds of variables, collecting data from countries all around the world and collecting the data on on a continual basis over the years. And this group that runs this study puts out reports on a rolling basis on various topics, alcohol being one of them. So every few years, they put out a Global Burden of Disease Study article on alcohol, and all cause mortality. So looking at if you consume alcohol, does that mean that on average, you’re going to live longer or less long and what does that relationship look like? For years, those studies showed what we refer to as a J curve, which essentially, if you imagine it being graphed out, plotted out on a graph, you would see a line that looks like a j, where it shows that people who consume alcohol in low or moderate amounts tend to live a little bit longer, or at least as long as individuals who don’t drink and certainly longer than individuals who consume excessive amounts of alcohol. That had been the case for years. And that has been what decades of research beyond that Global Burden of Disease study have consistently shown. In 2018, the updated version came out and that version, said we can’t find an amount of alcohol that can be considered safe. So we will conclude no safe level. So that was a departure from decades of consistency in the in the message? Well, that’s what is oftentimes being pointed to when you hear those statements. If, if any research at all is is referenced, they’ll point to that 2018 article, which is interesting, because more recent global burden of disease reports have, have swung the other direction. Is that Exactly, yep. So in 2022, the update was published, the update had the additional years of data, and actually had improved, more nuanced methodology where they looked at outcomes by gender, age group region, and they actually were able to conclude that there is a level of alcohol consumption that could be considered safe for most adults. And so it reversed that no safe level message from 2018. Making it really an outlier when you look at the the years of research that preceded it. And then the more recent research that reverses it. And yet, here we are in 2023. Over a year after that 2022 article was published. And you’ll still see the the same organizations or individuals who say no safe level, they’ll point to the 20 tene article. But that’s because they don’t have much else to point to. And so there’s that cherry picking that seems to be creating a narrative that just really isn’t grounded in the science. And so that that is a concern, when it is being message to consumers and, you know, repeated over and over. Or worse in the spring that who published a guidance document for journalists that directed them to use the no safe level framing when they report on alcohol. So you know, you you now have a story, a narrative that’s been that that is, has grown to the point where no one is questioning it anymore. No one is, is saying well, what is the research that that’s based on? And so when you have that, combined with what’s happening with the Canadian report, along with what happened with the 2020 recommendations, recommendation that was rejected. You know, we’re now in a place where there’s a lot of uncertainty about the the science that will go into the 2025 Dietary Guidelines, which is all the more complicated when there’s a new process, and we still don’t know exactly what that process is going to look like. We have some information, but there’s still a lot that has not been shared publicly yet about who will who will be involved in the review, what topics will be considered and in making the recommendations for 2025. The federal government has confirmed that alcohol recommendations will still be in the 2025 dietary guidelines. But there’s still a bit of a black box when it comes to knowing what the process behind the recommendations is going to look look like, wow, Amanda, this is absolutely fascinating to me, it’s so interesting to hear all of it. And to understand just, just like you said, the cherry picking the how much the stakeholders, the different sides, and then again just reaffirms how much i How much respect I have for discus in the fact that they have you as a science advocate, and that their that their focus is on understanding and finding the true science behind and making that what guides our decisions, right. And that’s really what we want. We want to have accurate information. And we want information that helps us make informed decisions. And that’s really, you know, that’s what this show is all about. That is why I started doing this work is because when we do not when we paint a no safe level, when we tell people that they cannot do something, they they typically turn off listening altogether, when so much good can be done. By helping people avoid alcohol use disorder, avoid binge drinking, avoid those types of behaviors that definitely lead to negative outcomes, right. And if we focus there, and we focus on reduction to a point where you’re able to enjoy alcohol in a minimal way, and not fall into those negative consequences, that’s where the, that’s where I believe this work, you know, this is such important work. And I just am so I’m, I hope that you will come back on the show, and discuss with us as we get closer to 2025. What is going on? And share with us how that process is going? And what that looks like, will you be able to do that? Absolutely. And I will say right now, in addition to the dietary guidelines, work that is kicking off, there’s still more to be done and, and more that discusses doing when it comes to informing consumers. You know, the marketplace has changed the the Advent or at least the boom of all of the ready to drink, hand cocktails and seltzers. You know, craft beers at all levels of alcohol by volume, you can’t assume that one container is one drink. Yeah. And on top of that, you’ve got drinks that have varying calories and, and other nutrient imbalances in their in their serving sizes. And that’s also a part of consumers making informed decisions. You know, alcohol in moderation can be a part of a balanced lifestyle for most adults. But part of that means you need to be able to make informed choices about the calories and how that they’re going to fit into your your daily dietary pattern, you’ve got to be able to know what counts as one drink. If you’re trying to limit your drinks to the moderation levels have one for female or two for male. And that’s another thing that discuss has been really focused on working on is is building that consumer information and empowering them to make choices. And actually in June 2024. Our our members have made a voluntary commitment to include serving facts on on their products, June 2020. Form and on, you know, and so including things like calories, which you know, haven’t been required, and therefore haven’t been on most labeling and most products. That’s another piece to that we think is important, in addition to those recommendations around what counts as moderation and who shouldn’t drink at all. Yeah, like I said, it’s amazing. It’s a it’s a really good work really good work that you’re doing, and I appreciate it. And I can’t wait to like I said, I hope you’ll come back on again, an update us as we go throughout this towards that 2025 dietary guideline. I would love to Dr. Amanda Berger, thank you so much for being here. And I just appreciate you taking the time. And I hope you’ll again come back and keep doing the good work on behalf of discuss and for all of us in educating us on informed decisions and using science to help us make those decisions and what those dietary guidelines might eventually look like here in the United States. So Appreciate it. All of my favorite topics. I can’t wait to talk more. Great. Hey, how did you like that conversation? I so appreciate Amanda’s very logical scientific and practical approach to making guidelines making recommendations and delivering a message around alcohol that keeps us away from the problematic areas of over drinking, and binge drinking and things that generally don’t produce good outcomes in our lives, right. But being able to see the full range of options, including being able to include alcohol in your life in a minimal way, is what I hope we can learn in terms of incorporating the science and really deciding for ourselves using that data. I appreciated to her, her being able to parse out some of the headlines, and really understanding how people do cherry pick the news, the way that they deliver it, right. It’s not just facts that we’re getting, but we’re getting some editorial perspective that we need to be aware of, I would love to have a further conversation with you if you have come out of more sober October and you are ready to move on into becoming a alcohol minimalist for the rest of your life. Right? I say it all the time. This is not just a 30 day challenge. It is really about creating sustainable change. And I want that for all of you. You can always email me Molly at Molly watts.com. I answer every email I am happy to talk with you and see what might work best for you in terms of creating sustainable change. I hope that your more sober October was very successful, I hope that you were able to increase and add in some more alcohol free days. And I hope you want to keep doing this work. Here is to a very rockin November. It’s my birthday month. So I’m looking forward to that. And I will see you all next week. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. Take something you learned from this episode and put it into action this week. Changing your drinking habits and creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol is 100% possible. You can stop worrying. Stop feeling guilty about over drinking and become someone who desires alcohol less. Hum join me in making peace with alcohol. It’s my six month online course and group coaching program designed to help you build sustainable change. Give me six months and I’ll help you create peace. Check it out at www dot Molly watts.com/join That’s Molly with a why and watts with an s.com/join. Um join me today