Should alcohol show calories?

The EU is considering labelling changes – as people do not realise a couple of glasses of wine can equate to a hamburger

5 November 2014
By

THE EUROPEAN Union is looking into requiring makers of alcoholic drinks to put calories on the bottles and cans.

The move could help stem rising weight problems, it is thought.

While most people are aware of the need to cut down on sugar and fat to keep weight down, many do not realise how many calories there are in drinks – for example two large (17.5cl) glasses of wine have more calories than a small McDonalds hamburger.

In fact one gram of pure alcohol contains a similar amount to a gram of butter – yet the calories in alcohol are not shown on the packaging and are not emphasised in national French campaigns aimed at healthier lifestyles.

Official site www.mangerbouger.com just refers to risk of illnesses like “cardio-vascular illness” and cirrhosis from too much alcohol, but does not refer to how it can contribute to obesity.

Now new EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andrutakitis is to look into the issue of nutritional labelling on alcohol by the end of the year and the UK’s Royal Society of Public Health, notably, is pressing him on the importance of manufacturers showing the calories.

It comes as two-thirds of British people are now overweight or obese – though the French are catching them up, at half the population.

Here are some examples of some common drinks combinations and their rough calorie equivalents in foods:

1 large (50cl) beer (eg. Kronenbourg 1664), 260 cals = A pack of Twix

3 small (10cl) glasses of red wine, 228cals = Small McDonalds hamburger

1 vodka and Red Bull, 170cals = Small bag of Lays cheese crisps

3 whiskies, 300cals = Large pain au chocolat

Studies show that occasional binge drinking is worse for weight gain than having a small amount regularly. And while some people who abuse alcohol actually lose weight, this is only because they are replacing food with drink.

Photo: Davide Restivo/ Wikimedia Commons

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