On the Pulse: If you knew the calorific content of your favourite tipple, would you drink less alcohol?

Alcoholic drinks are heavily contributing to adult obesity, warned a health charity today who demand that boozy beverages be labelled with their calorific content.

How many times have you found yourself sifting through the sandwiches or the packets of crisps at the supermarket looking for the one with the least calories? We’ve all done it at one time or another.

Most of us also enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine, especially at the weekends after a tiring time at work – but how many of us are actually aware of the calorific value of what we are drinking?

The Royal Society for Public Health revealed that adults who drink get approximately 10% of their calories from alcohol but 90% of people do not know how many calories are in a pint of beer.

Considering the fact that two thirds of the adult population in the UK is overweight or obese, would labels displaying calorie content make us drink less?

SW Londoner hit the streets to find out.

If you were aware of the amount of calories in your drink, would that influence the amount of alcohol you consume?

YES                                                       NO
50%                                                      50%

Monica Thakrar, 40, a HR officer from Morden, believes labelling alcohol with the calorie content would change how much she drinks.

“Once you see it, you know what you are drinking. When you don’t know, you don’t pay as much attention,” she said.

This reflects an experiment run by the RSPH who discovered that drinkers presented with calorie information consumed on average 400 calories less than those who were oblivious to the calorie content of another top-up.

The old adage ‘a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’ doesn’t deter some South West Londoners who think labelling wouldn’t change their drinking habits.

Sarah Kelly, 38, a stay-at-home mum from Wimbledon, said: “I watch what I eat and drink anyway, and I know when I have it, it’s not good for me, but everything in moderation.”

Sarah Payne, 27, is a solicitor from Wimbledon and she believes having the labels would be a good thing, but they wouldn’t change how much she drinks.

“I don’t drink that much anyway and I don’t think that calories would influence that kind of decision,” she said.

Amy Barker, 22, an office worker from Mitcham, agreed and said: “No, probably not. I don’t really watch my calories.”

With the average calories in a pint of beer closing in on 200, and a glass of bubbly being around 90, a change of tipple might be in order to balance waistlines against whiskies.

Lee Walker, 44, a banker from Worcester Park, said: “No, it might change what I drink, but not how much I’m drinking.”

Jason Samuels, 41, who works in telecoms and is from Crystal Palace, said: “It would do. If you are going to have four beers and put on 100 calories, at least you know what four beers would give you, whereas now we haven’t got a clue. We just drink it. It’s as simple as that really.”

Andrew Phillips, 39, a teacher from Tooting, said that he would be influenced to drink less if he was aware of the calorie content of his drink.

He said: “Knowing the amount of calories would help with watching the weight.”

Lauren Coor, 28, an administrator, and Amy Lusted, 25, a nurse, are both from Epsom and also believe that knowing the calorie content would influence the amount they drink.

Ms Coor said: “I’d think a bit more. I wouldn’t feel as guilty then.”

Ms Lusted added: “Yes, especially cocktails, just to be more healthy.”

It seems SW Londoners couldn’t definitely decide if knowing the weighty consequences of booze would deter them from drinking, but if the RSPH get their way perhaps more of us will be sober for October next year.

Picture courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski, with thanks

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