Hingson said the study's results raise important issues that need to be clarified. "We need to repeat this study with a larger random sample of students," he said. "The national surveys ought to ask whether alcohol is self served or in bottled containers. When they're collecting information about drinks in these surveys, they ought to provide more information about what a 'standard' drink really is. In addition, we ought to study if alcohol-related problems are associated with miscalculation of the amount of alcohol that it takes to make a standard drink. For example, are the people who underestimate the amount of alcohol in a standard drink the ones who are more likely to be dependent, who drive after drinking, ride with drinking drivers, or engage in other alcohol-related behaviors that pose risks to themselves and to others?"
"We somehow need to teach students, health educators, administrators, and anyone else involved in dealing with college-drinking issues how to accurately define a drink," added White. "Until then, we have to be cautious about the conclusions that we draw from survey data, and about the levels of consumption that we promote to college students as 'safe' or 'normal.' Telling a student that his or her peers typically drink three or four drinks when they go out could do some damage if that kid defines a drink as a 10-ounce cup of booze with a splash of Coke." White also suggested a new kind of beverage labeling.
"When someone picks up a box of cookies or a bag of potato chips," he said, "one of the first things they often do is look for information about serving sizes, calories, etc. Doesn't it make sense that these labels, or at least a rudimentary form of them, should be placed on drinks that contain alcohol? Grape juice has them, so why shouldn't wine? Otherwise, how is a person to know how many standard servings of alcohol are present i