Doctors say calorie labels on beer mean drinkers consume less

Irresponsible drinking is causing an obesity epidemic and threatening public health, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said. (AAP)

Alcoholic drinks are contributing to an obesity epidemic and the vast majority of people have no idea how many calories their drinks contain, British doctors say.

Irresponsible drinking is causing an obesity epidemic and threatening public health, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) says.

The majority of the 2117 UK adults they asked in a poll this month either did not know or underestimated the number of calories in a glass of wine and a pint of beer.

Of the adults across Britain who drink, nearly 10 per cent of their daily calories come from alcohol, the RSPH says, adding that labels would help people to make "informed choices" before they buy.

It says 80 per cent of adults have no idea what the calorie count is in anything they're drinking.

In a paper on the "invisible" calories in alcohol, the organisation called for calorie counts to be included alongside the number of units, daily guidelines advice and pregnancy warnings, which drinks companies agreed to include on their packaging as part of a deal with the UK Government in 2011.

The RSPH has urged the labelling change to be brought in throughout the EU.

It says more research into the relationship between drinking and weight is needed to look at the potential effectiveness of using labels which show calorie counts to reduce the amount of alcohol people consume.

The RSPH said its own experiment had found those given alcoholic drinks with calorie label, consumed less.

The group said cutting back on calories gained by drinking alcohol would make a huge difference to efforts tackling obesity as one average adult who drinks alcohol gets 10 per cent of their calorie intake from alcoholic beverages.

Two out of three people surveyed said they supported the idea of calorie labels on alcoholic beverages.

Factbox: What's the calorie count in beer, wine, spirits?

  • A large 250ml glass of 8% wine is 170 calories
  • The same amount of 14% wine is 230 calories
  • A 275ml alcopop can be 170 calories
  • A pint of 4% beer is more than 180 calories
  • Four pints on a night out equates of two-and-a-half burgers or 73 minutes of running
  • In comparison a sugary doughnut comes in around 200 calories

Source: Royal Society for Public Health, Drinkaware

Source AFP

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