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How much can we drink?

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OPINION: Official advice about alcohol in New Zealand often refers to "standard drinks". But alcohol is not served in standard drink sizes, and people do not always know how many are in a glass of wine or bottle of beer. Maybe we should have a better match between the message and what people actually drink.

The "standard drink" is a concept often used in New Zealand, both to give advice on how much you can drink and be legal to drive, and in medical advice. If you didn't know, a standard drink is 10 grams of pure alcohol, the amount the average human body can metabolise – convert into non-alcohol – in an hour.

This is a nice scientific concept. Unfortunately it doesn't easily translate into the alcoholic drinks people actually drink. For example, a standard small bottle of beer (330 ml) at 5 per cent alcohol contains 1.3 standard drinks. The typical glass of wine you might buy in a bar might be around 150ml of 12 per cent alcohol, or 1.4 standard drinks. A "pint" of beer (New........

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