GDS2022: No and low alcohol beverages: are they worth a shot?

Dr Emma Davies, Dr Cheneal Puljevic, Dr Monica Barratt, Associate Professor Jason Ferris & Professor Adam Winstock, GDS Core Research Team

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It is Global Drug Survey’s 10th Birthday this year, but rather than celebrating with a martini or a beer, perhaps we will mark the occasion by sipping on one of the many new no and low alcohol products that have flooded the market in recent years.

The definition of no and low (no/lo) products includes low alcohol drinks that are 1.2% ABV or lower, de-alcoholised products and alcohol free products (usually no more than 0.5%). As the number of non-drinkers grows, driven by health conscious, clean living Gen Z and by older consumers who want to moderate their consumption, the alcohol industry has responded with a flurry of new products.

It certainly seems like a positive move for those who chose not to drink alcohol when they go out. Rather than a limited choice of sugary fizzy drinks, there is a range of products to consider. Some research suggests that having a drink that looks like it is alcoholic can help non-drinkers feel like they fit in with their peers who drink. Increasing the acceptability of non-drinking and moderation may offer some people a way of more easily managing their alcohol consumption and the associated health risks. GDS thinks that would be a good thing.
However, it may also be the case that no/lo products might be marketed in a way that increases the acceptability of drinking across a range of situations. For example, advertising that situates no/lo products at the gym or at work events may unconsciously cause us to start to link those contexts with drinking alcohol.

So even though it is early days in our understanding of the use and perceptions of no/lo products GDS thought we better ask people why they have consumed them and what the impact has been (if any) upon their drinking. We want to know what no/lo products you have tried, where you drink them and what you think about them (even if you haven’t tried them).

With ten years under our belt tracking trends in alcohol consumption around the world, we have not gone completely off the drink. We know that alcohol is still responsible for 4% of the global burden of disease and has a causative role in over 60 chronic health conditions, including at least seven different sorts of cancer, as well poor mental health. So as usual, we are also asking you to complete questions about your drinking behaviours in this year’s GDS.

We are grateful to everyone who has completed our alcohol section over the last ten years, and we continue to ask important questions about alcohol consumption and harms in order to further our mission to make drug use safer, regardless of the legal status of the drug.

If you drink alcohol (or even if you don’t) and have ever tried or even thought about trying a no/lo alcohol beverage we’d love to hear from you. Please spare 20 minutes and add your experience and opinion to tens of thousands of people this year who will take part in GDS2022.


Go on… hit the link, take the survey.

It’s anonymous, confidential and encrypted. Your experiences will help inform others and influence change.

Stay safe, Professor Adam Winstock, Dr Monica Barratt, Dr Emma Davies & Associate Professor Jason Ferris, on behalf of all at GDS