Obesity crisis could be worsened by our drinking habits
29th April 2015
wineThe European Parliament will decide in the future if all alcoholic drinks should be sold bearing the calorie content of the drink printed on its label. Experts have argued that many drinkers are completely unaware of the amount of calories in the drinks they are consuming, and that the listing of calorie content on all drink labels is vital to try and put a halt to the increasing problem of obesity. Calorie content for food items is already printed on labels, but most alcoholic drinks are currently from this policy. Any drinks that contain over 1.2% of alcohol by volume are currently exempt from EU regulations on nutritional labelling that came in to force in 2011 covering all food and soft drink. However, later today MEPs will deliberate on the issue and come to a conclusion on whether or not calorie labelling for alcohol drinks should be implemented or abandoned. If the proposals are voted in favour of, it could still be several months or even years before such proposals become fully-fledged legislation. Glenis Willmott, MEP for the East of England, is strongly supporting the plans for mandatory alcohol labelling, highlighting the fact that many European countries are amongst the heaviest drinkers in the world. She 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.” The debate on labelling calorie content on alcoholic drinks comes in the same week a study was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on the connection between alcohol intake and obesity. Professor Fiona Sim, chairman of the Royal Society for Public Health, argued that a recent growing trend of places such as bars and restaurants of serving much bigger glasses of wine and drinks comprising of a higher alcohol content is hindering the efforts to control an ever-growing obesity epidemic. In the report published in the BMJ, Professor Sim says that for adult drinkers, roughly 10% of their daily calorie is derived from alcohol. In the BMJ Dr Sim commented how a recent survey by the Royal Society discovered that around 80% of the 2,117 adults involved in the survey were clueless to the calorie content in most of the common drinks at pubs. Moreover, the majority of those quizzed didn’t actually know that alcohol was included in the total amount of calories they consume, but positively, most agreed with calorie content being shown on drink labels. However, it is clear that alcohol is certainly playing an important role in our increasing waistlines, and Dr Sim says: “Hardly anyone interviewed seemed to know much about the calorie content of alcoholic drinks, and most wanted more information. It is impossible to ignore our failure to deal with obesity. Daily, in clinical and public health practice, we see its cost to individuals and society. Drinking alcohol is common and, in excess, harmful. To what extent do the calories consumed in alcohol contribute to the obesity epidemic?”