Fresh Calls for Calorie Labelling on Alcohol Drinks

Published by John Gillen | Last updated: 17th June 2024

an image of wine in storage
Councils across the United Kingdom are now demanding laws be introduced that would force alcohol firms to place calorie labelling on their products. Councils are urging for the move through the Local Government Association (LGA). The LGA represents over 370 council across the country. The move follows recent research that proves the link between alcohol use and deadly diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Informed, healthier choices

The LGA claims calories in alcohol are a ‘black box’ for most consumers. The LGA believes compelling alcohol firms to include calorie information on their products will help consumers make a more healthy and informed choice when it comes to purchasing alcohol.

A spokesperson for the LGA, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said one can of cider contains around 250 calories, which is the equivalent to around 75% of a burger. Similarly, drinking ten pints of beer is the roughly equivalent to eating seven burgers. The LGA claims that hidden calories in alcohol are making a significant contribution to the obesity and general poor health problems suffered by the UK population.

Support for the move is now also being backed up by MEPs following a vote at the European Parliament in Brussels. However, votes cast by MEPs are not binding law on Member States of the European Community.

UK consumers ‘falling behind’ the rest of the EU

Prior research reveals around eighty percent of the UK public are not aware of the exact number calories contained in a glass of wine or pint of beer. The research says the UK is falling behind other developed countries when it comes to recognising how many calories are contained within common alcoholic drinks such as beer or wine.

For the record, the average pint of beer contains 180 calories, whilst the average glass of wine contains 228 calories.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe said: “Breweries and drinks manufacturers should show leadership in tackling the obesity crisis, by voluntarily providing clear signs on bottles and cans of alcohol.

“Most people are aware that excessive alcohol can lead to serious health problems like liver and heart damage, and an increased risk of cancer. However, the amount of calories from an average night’s drinking isn’t so well-known. People should be able to make informed choices.

“The onus is on the big breweries to do more to provide clear and prominent labelling. Providing people with the right information allows them to make choices about what they eat and drink.

“Prevention is the only way we are going to tackle the obesity crisis, which is costing the NHS more than £5 billion every year. It’s all about giving people the right information about the calories they are consuming. This saves money for other parts of the public sector by reducing demand for hospital, health and social care services, and improves the public’s health.”

Let’s end lenient rules for the alcohol industry

Extended the requirement to publish calorie details on packaging to the drink industry seems like the fair move to make. Food producers have had to include calorie details on their products for many years now and so the time to extend this legislation to drinks producers seems far overdue.

The current rules regarding mandatory labelling of nutritional values on drinks does not apply when the drink contains more than 1.2% alcohol by volume. This exemption is utterly illogical and perhaps a reflection of the power of the alcohol lobby both within the UK and the EU.

Glenis Willmott, MEP for the East Midlands, said: “Europe is still the heaviest-drinking region in the world but many people don’t realise that a large glass of wine contains the same number of calories as a slice of cake.

“In order to reduce the burden of alcohol-related harm, we must make sure people are given clear information to enable them to make informed choices.”

Getting help for alcohol addiction

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John Gillen

John Gillen - Author Last updated: 17th June 2024

John Gillen is a leading addiction treatment expert with over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based treatment methods for individuals throughout the UK. John also co-authors the book, The Secret Disease of Addiction, which delves into how the addictive mind works and what treatment techniques work best.