Health literacy refers broadly to a person’s ability to use health-related information in ways that enhance their own health and the health of their community, whether that’s information from a doctor or the results of the newest research covered in the media1. Alcohol health literacy, an application of health literacy to alcohol, is the degree to which people are able to access, understand, evaluate, and apply information about alcohol to prevent personal and community harms from alcohol2.

To contribute to increasing alcohol health literacy, the Foundation is funding researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine to develop Global Alcohol Guidance Labels. There will be multiple labels and they will communicate messages about alcohol-related harms, such as injury and disease, as well as provide actionable advice about how to avoid harmful use. These labels could be used by brewers to provide consumers with clear actionable information about their products, a critical component of alcohol health literacy. The labels will reflect current evidence-based practices and scientific knowledge for effective consumer guidance labeling.

Read more about this project here

To date, the researchers at Tufts have convened experts at a conference attended by participants with experience in alcohol, public health, and product labeling for alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and food. They recommended the following labelling strategy:

Lower Risk Drinking Guidelines

Create a guidance label that communicates existing lower risk drinking guidelines (LRDGs) as well as the alcohol content of a container in relation to those guidelines.

ALCOHOL-RELATED HARMS AND ACTIONABLE ADVICE

Create a series of labels for rotation in each country. These labels should clearly communicate alcohol-related harms and provide actionable advice to avoid such harms. Suitable messaging in each country depends on current epidemiologic data and governmental initiatives in the markets.

COMPREHENSIVE PRODUCT INFORMATION IN ADDITION TO GUIDANCE LABELS

In addition to the rotating guidance labels, all existing product description labels should include, or be modified to include, the percent alcohol by volume (%ABV), and the number of standard drinks in each container.

Additional background on the recommendations developed by the researchers at Tufts University can be found on the project website.

1. Sørensen, K., Van Den Broucke, S., Fullam, J., Doyle, G., Pelikan, J., Slonska, Z., & Brand, H. (2012). Health literacy and public health: A systematic review and integration of definitions and models. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 80. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-12-80

2. Sykes, S., Wills, J., Okan, O., & Rowlands,G. (2019). Shaping alcohol health literacy: a systematic concept analysis and review. Health Literacy Research and Practice. Advance online publication.