Calorie count signs should be introduced on all alcoholic drinks to help fight obesity, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
Obesity is a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and the LGA – a lobby group which represents local authorities – believes labelling would “enable choice” with people more aware about how many calories are in each drink.
The LGA said its research showed 80 per cent of members of the public did not know that there were 228 calories in a large glass of wine. A bottle of wine has the same caloric count as two burgers.
The “empty” calories in alcohol hold no nutritional value and lessen the amount of fat burned for energy, the LGA said. They added that two-thirds of survey participants backed the idea of labelling bottles and cans.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, LGA Community Wellbeing spokesperson, said that informing the public of the calories in alcohol could save the NHS money and tackle the obesity crisis in the UK. The UK is behind only Iceland and Malta for the highest proportion of populations who are overweight or obese.
“Most people are aware that excessive alcohol can lead to serious health problems like liver and heart damage, and an increased risk of cancer,” said Seccombe. “However, the amount of calories from an average night’s drinking isn’t so well-known. People should be able to make informed choices.
“The onus is on the big breweries to do more to provide clear and prominent labelling. Providing people with the right information allows them to make choices about what they eat and drink.
“Prevention is the only way we are going to tackle the obesity crisis, which is costing the NHS more than £5 billion every year. It’s all about giving people the right information about the calories they are consuming. This saves money for other parts of the public sector by reducing demand for hospital, health and social care services, and improves the public’s health.”