Government to consult on calorie labelling for alcohol

The government will launch a consultation on plans to provide calorie labelling for alcohol, it has announced. The consultation, which will be launched before the end of the year, forms part of the government’s new obesity strategy designed to ‘beat coronavirus and protect the NHS’.

A cocktail can be the calorific equivalent of a cheeseburger

Other measures in the strategy include a ban on TV adverts for unhealthy foods before 9pm and a requirement to display calories on menus, which could also include ‘hidden liquid calories’ for alcohol drinks. The strategy has been launched alongside a new Better health campaign from Public Health England which is calling on people to ‘embrace a healthier lifestyle’.

Around 80 per cent of people are unaware of the calorie content of alcoholic drinks, the government says, with alcohol consumption estimated to account for almost 10 per cent of calorie intake for those who drink. Around 3.4m people are consuming an additional day’s worth of calories per week, it adds.  

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore: ‘Alcohol is a factor in more than 200 health conditions.’

‘The government’s plans to consult on ending the current exemption for alcohol products from calorie labelling requirements are very welcome,’ said chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore. ‘When 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, it is clear why alcohol products should be included in the government’s plans to tackle the obesity crisis.

‘Alcohol is a factor in more than 200 health conditions and is the leading risk factor of death among 15-49 year olds in England,’ he added. ‘Labelling on all alcohol products with prominent health warnings, low risk drinking guidelines and information on ingredients, nutrition and calories would help equip the public with the knowledge they need to make healthier decisions about what and how much they drink. If we want to build a healthier, more resilient society we need to wake up to the harm alcohol does to people’s health.’