Alcohol calorie labels urged by British health experts

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From an article in CBC:  Health experts in the U.K. are advising their government to add calorie count labels to alcohol packaging to help inform citizens in the ongoing fight against obesity.

The Royal Society for Public Health released a report this week, aiming to increase public awareness of what is calls the “invisible” calories from wine, spirits and beer.
“Alcoholic drinks are frequently high in calories and their regular consumption can lead to weight gain,” he report says. The society estimates that among adults who consume alcohol, nearly 10 per cent of their daily calorie content comes from alcohol.

According to the RSPH, a 250-millilitre glass of wine with 14 per cent alcohol by volume contains 230 calories, while a pint of four per cent alcohol beer contains more than 180 calories.

Comparatively, Tim Hortons’ website lists its old fashioned plain donut as having 210 calories, and its caramel apple bagel at 340 calories.
A 355-millilitre can of Coca-Cola or Pepsi has 150 calories.

“I don’t think they think about it,” RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramertold The Guardian. “We go out at lunchtime and look at the sandwiches on display. We know and understand what the labelling means. We pick the sandwich or salad on the basis of the calories. But people don’t think about that when they go out on a Friday night.”
The RSPH is calling on drinks companies and the European Union Health Commissioner to add calorie labels to all alcohol products. Letters to the EU and to major drinks corporations such as Diageo can be found on their website.

Meanwhile, Health Canada proposed changes to nutritional information labels in July, but the focus was primarily on information about sugars, as a response to rising rates of childhood obesity, and providing serving sizes more consistent with people’s consumption habits.

In Canada, drinks with an alcohol content of more than 0.5 per cent are exempt from showing a Nutrition Facts table, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Labelling Requirements for Alcohol page. That exemption doesn’t apply, however, to energy drinks or to drinks with sugar substitutes such as sucralose or aspartame.
Should beer, wine and spirits have clear calorie content labelling on bottles and other packaging? Would the calorie or sugar content influence whether you have a drink with your dinner on a Friday night? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Royce Christyn
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