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alcohol health alliance uk

Balance welcomes consultation on alcohol calorie labelling


Bottles of beer

Posted 27/07/20

Balance has welcomed an announcement by the Government to consult on calorie labelling on alcohol – and is calling on Ministers to give people more information on what is in their drinks.

The Government has announced that a new consultation will be launched before the end of the year on adding calorie labelling on alcohol products as part of the Government’s new Obesity Strategy.

Alcohol consumption has been estimated to account for nearly 10% of the calorie intake of those who drink, with around 3.4 million adults consuming an additional days’ worth of calories each week – totalling an additional two months of food each year.

But research shows the majority of the public (80%) is unaware of the calorie content of common drinks and many typically underestimate the true content. It is hoped alcohol labelling could lead to a reduction in consumption, improving people’s health. [1]

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “We welcome the Government’s plans to consult on ending the current exemption for alcohol products from calorie labelling requirements. This could play a part in helping to tackle the obesity crisis and would be a positive step forward.

““However, there is still some way to go before the public will see labels which enable them to make fully informed decisions about consumption. Alcohol is linked to a wide range of medical conditions, including seven types of cancer, heart disease and strokes.

“It is only by being aware of the risks that people can make fully informed choices about how much alcohol they choose to drink. As well as nutritional information, the Government also needs to introduce mandatory health warnings on alcohol labels together with the Chief Medical Officers’ drinking guidelines of no more than 14 units a week for both men and women to keep risks low.

“The majority of North Easterners back the introduction of compulsory health warning labels and want to know what they’re consuming.

“With one in four adults in the region drinking at risky levels it is now time for Government to ensure drinkers have all the information they need to keep themselves healthy.”

A 2019 survey of the general public found the majority of people in the North East believe more information on alcohol labels should be a legal requirement:
• 62% supporting calorie information
• 56% supporting weekly low risk drinking guidelines
• 71% supporting a general warning that exceeding the guidelines can damage health
• 68% supporting a specific warning that alcohol is a cause of cancer
The calorie equivalent of a large glass of white wine is the same as a slice of pizza or a cocktail is the equivalent of a cheeseburger [2].

1 – Institute of Alcohol Studies

2- RSPH Alcohol calorie labelling