The alcohol industry needs more scrutiny

June 1, 2011

The influence of "Big Alcohol" in the health arena deserves as much scrutiny as Big Pharma and Big Tobacco, especially in light of evidence of bias in funded research, unsupported claims of benefit, and inappropriate promotion and marketing by the alcohol industry, says a new editorial in this week's PLoS Medicine. The PLoS Medicine editors argue that the statistics about problem drinking are troubling enough, but what also demands more attention and research is the influence of the alcohol industry on health research, government policy, and public perceptions of the harms and benefits of alcohol.

In the UK, for example, there have been scathing allegations that the current government is too close to the drinks industry, including its recent invitations allowing industry representatives to influence , which led to a withdrawal of support for a key by major organizations including the British Medical Association, Royal College of Physicians, and several alcohol control charities.

Other analyses have documented a laundry list of misdeeds by the alcohol industry: promoting the health benefits of alcohol while downplaying harms; deflecting attention away from scientific data that contradict industry exaggerations of benefit; evading government controls on advertising by evolving new strategies to market to youth; and engaging in philanthropy to promote , among others.

"If this questionable behavior is reminiscent of the strategies developed by the pharmaceutical, tobacco, and other industries to further their agendas," say the editors, "it should be a wake-up call to us all."

They continue: "Whether the solutions are stricter regulation over advertising and promotion, banning sports sponsorships, setting minimum pricing, restricting access, introducing mandatory safety labeling, or holding the industry to account for the harms associated with their products, there is a need now to target more attention to and research on the that can support and fuel legislative, regulatory, and community action to protect the public health."

More information: The PLoS Medicine Editors (2011) Let's Be Straight Up about the Alcohol Industry. PLoS Med 8(5): e1001041. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001041

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.