USDA Dietary Guidelines | NBWA: America's Beer and Beverage Distributors

A Drink Is Not a Drink

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

For more than 30 years, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines) published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) have defined moderate alcohol consumption as up to two drinks per day for men and up to one drink per day for women. After evaluating the science, HHS and USDA made the decision to maintain this definition of moderate alcohol consumption in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines are updated every five years and serve as the basis for nutrition policy in the United States.

The updated Dietary Guidelines also accurately and properly define drink equivalents in a manner that reflects alcohol concentration and how different alcohol products are consumed. 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. For example, light beer, the most popular choice by consumers, contains less than 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol. Whereas many Americans consider “one drink” as a cocktail, these drinks often contain a combination of several shots of liquors that add up to more than 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol. By properly defining a drink equivalent, the American public can better understand the differences between alcoholic beverages and make better decisions about their consumption choices.