Put calories on drinks labels, says public health body

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Calorie labelling should be introduced for alcoholic drinks, according to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). More than 80 per cent of the public did not know – or incorrectly estimated – the amount of calories in a large glass of wine, says RSPH, while for a pint of lager the figure was almost 90 per cent. 

While alcohol is currently exempt from EU food labelling legislation, the European Commission is to make a decision next month on whether to extend nutrition labelling, including information on calories, to alcoholic products. The RSPH is calling on both the EU health commissioner and the drinks industry to introduce calorie labelling, and says its research shows that 67 per cent of the public would support the move.

‘Calorie labelling has been successfully introduced for a wide range of food products and there is now a clear public appetite for this information to be extended to alcohol to help individuals make informed choices,’ said RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer. ‘With two in three adults overweight or obese, and given that adults who drink get approximately 10 per cent of their calories from alcohol, this move could make a major difference to waistlines of the nation. While we continue to back unit labelling for alcoholic drinks, we believe that many people find calorie labelling easier to translate into their everyday lives.’