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This section briefly illustrates changes in the proportion of people exceeding the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines, using data from the 2001, 2004-05 and 2007-08 National Health Surveys (NHS) where possible. Note that figures in this section have been age standardised to allow comparisons over time, therefore figures for 2007-08 stated in previous chapters may differ slightly from figures presented here.
LONGER TERM/LIFETIME RISK
In 2001, based on the 2001 NHMRC longer term guidelines, 10.8% of all persons aged 18 years or over consumed alcohol at a risky or high risk level (on average, more than 4 standard drinks per day for males, and more than 2 standard drinks per day for females).
The proportion increased to 13.4% in 2004-05, and has remained the same since then (13.3% in 2007-08).
Based on the 2009 NHMRC guidelines, the proportion of people exceeding the guidelines is higher, but the trend over time is similar. In 2001, 18.5% of all persons aged 18 years or over consumed alcohol at levels exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines (more than two standard drinks, for both males and females). The proportion increased to 21.8% in 2004-05 then decreased slightly to 20.9% in 2007-08, however this decrease was not statistically significant.
Footnote(s): (a) Persons aged 18 years or over.
Source(s): National Health Survey, 2001, 2004-05 and 2007-08
SHORT TERM/SINGLE OCCASION RISK
Data for short term/single occasion risk are not available from the 2001 NHS, as questions on single occasion consumption were not asked in this survey.
In 2004-05, based on the 2001 NHMRC short term guidelines, 39.5% of all persons aged 18 years or over consumed alcohol at a risky or high risk level (more than 6 standard drinks for males, and more than 4 standard drinks for females, on any one occasion). In 2007-08 the proportion was 38.2%, with the difference between the two years not being statistically significant.
For 2004-05 and 2007-08 it is not possible to estimate the proportion of persons who exceeded the 2009 NHMRC guidelines for single occasion risk, as questions regarding the lower threshold of more than 4 standard drinks for males were not asked in these surveys. Given this lower threshold, however, it can be expected that the proportion will be higher than the proportion according to the 2001 guidelines. Questions in the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey will allow the calculation of single occasion risk according to both the 2001 and 2009 guidelines, for both males and females.
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