USDA Dietary Guidelines | NBWA: America's Beer Distributors

A Drink Is Not a Drink

HHS and USDA have recognized that all alcoholic drinks are not created equally.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – published jointly by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – notes that, “Packaged (e.g., canned beer, bottled wine) and mixed beverages (e.g., margarita, rum and soda, mimosa, sangria) vary in alcohol content. For this reason, it is important to determine how many alcoholic drink-equivalents are in the beverage and limit intake.”

NBWA – along with the Beer Institute, the Brewers Association and the Wine Institute – requested that the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines offer consumers more complete and accurate information about alcohol consumption than the previous Dietary Guidelines, which inaccurately suggested that all alcoholic beverages are equal. 

Beer, wine and liquor differ greatly in alcohol-by-volume (ABV) content. A bottle of IPA, a glass of cabernet and a Long Island iced tea each have different amounts of alcohol. Light beer, the most popular choice by consumers, contains less than 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol. Most Americans consider “one drink” as a cocktail, which often contains a combination of various types of alcohol that add up to more than 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol.