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Will the calorie content on alcohol labels help tackle obesity?

Posted in Personal Health 08 Feb, 2013

It’s been done with food, and now it looks like the trend of displaying the calories on the products that you consume is set to extend to alcohol. According to The Guardian, a recent report has confirmed that discussions debating whether the calorie content should be included on alcohol labels, have taken place between the alcohol industry and the health minister Anna Soubry. The government hope that the inclusion of calorie content labels on alcoholic beverages will help to improve drinker’s knowledge of alcohol, information on the daily guidelines, and the potential health risks.

Curbing the obesity crisis

The campaign against obesity and the inclusion of calorie content labels on foods is not a new one, after the emergence of the 'Reasonability Deal' last year, the brainchild between the government and the food industry. The deal was created to ensure that limits were placed on the food industry, effectively prohibiting the industry from selling foods high in fat, sugar, and salt. Hence this deal was seen as a measure by the government to address and subsequently slow down the country’s obesity crisis.

Drinking and obesity

When we think about obesity we think about food, in particular the over consumption of food. Although this is true, many of us fail to realise how much alcohol plays a part in our daily calorie count. A large glass of wine amounts to 200 calories, while the average beer equals to 215 calories. Thus without even knowing it, drinking just a couple of glasses of wine a week could have a serious effect on your waist line. Likewise a cocktail such as a pina colada contains 245 calories.

The benefit of knowing the calorie content

Not only will knowing how much calories an alcoholic beverage contains help to monitor your weight or daily calorie intake, like food, it could also help you to become more aware of how much you are drinking. It could therefore act as deterrent to people who are health conscious but oblivious to the calorific nature of some alcoholic drinks.

Sugar free- versions

A common belief held by many as a way to avoid putting on the pounds and limiting the chance of getting drunk, is to include diet mixers in their beverage. However, a recent study has squashed this notion after researcher’s claimed that drinkers who chose diet mixers to reduce their alcohol levels, became more intoxicated. Furthermore, the study concluded that the sweeteners found in diet mixers do nothing to reduce the affect of alcohol. Although these diet mixers may reduce the amount of calories consumed, they do nothing to deter the affects of alcohol. The study also suggests that a drinker will become more intoxicated while drinking these drinks. Such findings makes me believe that although diet mixers may help you to avoid putting on the pounds, your lack of awareness of how drunk you really are, could potentially be dangerous.

Will it act as a deterrent?

Putting calorie content information on alcohol labels will no doubt have many benefits including helping drinkers to become more aware of the calories they are consuming and thus enabling them to control their weight more effectively. Alcohol has for so long been a hidden factor behind the cause of obesity. Such a system will, I believe, help to highlight and bring awareness to the connection between alcohol and obesity. If it's to be believed that the labeling will also include information on how much a particular beverage contributes to your daily guideline, than this could also potentially help you to know your limit and when to stop, which for a number of health reasons would be highly beneficial.

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