Alcohol drinking in adults

Why this indicator is important

Improving health behaviours, such as stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, eating well and exercising regularly, can prevent up to one third of all cancers.1 

Reducing alcohol consumption can help reduce the risk of cancers arising in the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, bowel, liver and breast.1

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released revised Alcohol Guidelines in 2020. To reduce long-term and short-term risk of harm from alcohol, the Guidelines propose no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day. The Guidelines advise that young people under 18 years and pregnant women do not drink alcohol, and that it is safest for breast feeding women not to drink alcohol.2

About this indicator

This indicator shows the proportion of adults in NSW who reported drinking alcohol within recommended levels.  

  • The proportion of NSW adults drinking alcohol within recommended levels (two or fewer standard alcoholic drinks per day) has remained around 70% over the last 10 years.

Note: These data were the latest available at the time they were extracted (August 2020). For the most recent population health data, visit HealthStats NSW.

Proportion of adults* who consumed alcohol within recommended levels**, NSW, 2010–2019

N = Number of survey respondents.

* People aged 16 years and over.
** Two or fewer standard alcoholic drinks per day, as per National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines.


  1. Data source: NSW Population Health Survey (sourced from HealthStats NSW, Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health. Available at: (accessed August 2020).


  1. Whiteman DC, Webb PM, Green AC, Neale RE, Fritschi L, Bain CJ, et al. Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to modifiable factors: summary and conclusions. Aust N Z J Public Health 2010 Oct;39(5),477–84 doi: 10.1111/1753–6405.12471
  2. National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol December. Available at: