UK’s Voluntary Pledge to Provide Calorie Content Information for Alcoholic Drinks Failing to Make an Impact

6ac725b3-9c82-4b0d-addd-38a8a4d970cbarticleimage.jpg

19 Jun 2017 --- Alcoholic beverage producers and retailers in the UK are failing to provide consumers with information on the calorie content of alcoholic drinks, according to new research reported in Public Health. The research states that the voluntary pledge by the UK industry in 2011 to provide information on alcohol calories has not led to any significant provision of this information to consumers and that calorie information only appeared on the labels of around 1% of products examined. In addition to this, calorie information was not present in any of the supermarket branches visited in the study, and it was not routinely provided on supermarkets’ websites.

Alcohol is a major source of “hidden” calories in the diet of adults who drink and a significant contributor to obesity. Among adults who drink, it is estimated that about 8% of their daily calorie intake comes from alcohol. In the UK, the NHS Choices website indicates that the average wine drinker in England consumes around 2,000 calories from alcohol every month. However, no country in the world currently requires the calorie content of alcohol to be stated on the packaging.

A recent European Commission report on the mandatory labeling of alcoholic beverages suggested that industry appears to be increasingly willing to adopt voluntary initiatives to offer nutritional information, citing commitments by some alcohol producers. However, relatively little is known about how and to what extent such pledges have been implemented.

In 2011, alcohol retailers and producers in England pledged to provide consumers with information on the calorie content of alcoholic drinks as part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal (RD). One of the core commitments made by participating organizations was to “foster a culture of responsible drinking, which will help people to drink within guidelines.” Upon signing on to the RD, organizations were asked to provide pledge delivery plans setting out how they would deliver on each pledge they had selected and to send annual progress reports to the Department of Health.

“Alcohol contributes significant calories to the diet of even moderate drinkers, and provision of calorie information to consumers is a potentially important way of helping them reduce their calorie intake if they so wish,” explained lead investigator Mark Petticrew, PhD, of the Policy Innovation Research Unit at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

This study examines what has been achieved and considers the implications for current industry commitments to provide information on alcohol calories.

Click to EnlargeAccording to the study, 70 percent of signatories to the pledges made no clear commitment to providing information or made no mention of calorie labeling in their pledge delivery plans. Progress reports were only available for a minority of signatories in 2012 and 2013. Most signatories (86%) provided progress reports in 2014, but the majority (74%) did not mention alcohol calories.

Researchers also visited 55 stores in the South of England from June to September 2014 to assess the extent of calorie information provided in the alcohol sections of the stores. The sample included five city-based stores from each of 10 leading supermarkets and one major wine retailer, all of which had pledged to provide calorie information. They also examined the online shopping websites (where available) of each supermarket to check what calorie information was provided on three specific alcohol products (white wine, beer and vodka); assessed what information was provided about the calorie and unit content of any of these products; and searched elsewhere on the supermarket websites and on their Facebook pages for information on alcohol calories.

Additionally, the researchers examined data for 156 alcohol products to see if they reported calorie information on the label, and found that such information was very rarely provided – it appeared on only about 1% of products.

No information was provided in any of the stores. Calorie information was not routinely provided on supermarkets' websites, nor on product labels (two out of 156 products examined). Fourteen signatories mentioned calorie information in their progress reports but in most cases, had not provided information directly to consumers, or only in a very limited fashion.

The investigators conclude that one of the stated purposes of the RD to provide consumers with the information to make informed health-related choices, including providing information on the calorie content of alcoholic drinks, did not take place to any significant extent.

“The public is in favor of alcohol calorie labeling – lack of provision of information on alcohol calories makes it more difficult for people to make informed choices about their own health. Provision of alcohol calorie information would potentially contribute to measures to address the problem of adult obesity. The voluntary implementation of alcohol calorie labeling by industry needs to continue to be carefully monitored to determine whether and how it is done,”  Professor Petticrew comments.

Related Articles

Nutrition & Health News

Researchers create app to predict and intervene in users' overeating

13 Dec 2017 --- Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the University of Connecticut (UConn) are collaborating on a smartphone app aimed at helping users manage their overeating challenges in three key ways: by tracking eating patterns, providing interventions and helping change behavior. According to the researchers, the app and its distinctive methodology have shown “tremendous promise” in an early pilot study.

Nutrition & Health News

Dairy proteins take center stage at FiE 2017

12 Dec 2017 --- Exhibitors at FiE 2017 in Frankfurt showed a sustained focus on high protein concepts, with a number of notable innovations in the area of dairy-related ingredients. NutritionInsight looks at just a few of the offerings showcased at this year’s event.

Nutrition & Health News

Energetic growth: Energy boosters add pep to the nutritional space’s step

11 Dec 2017 --- Busy schedules can cause consumers to go through an “energy crisis” – prompting their desire to reach for products that might offer some support to their energy levels. Energy boosters are certainly showing signs of growth in all regions tracked by Innova Market Insights. A CAGR in supplement launches of +208.8 percent in South America from 2012 to 2016 is particularly noteworthy, while Europe is top of the pile worldwide with 28.8 percent of its supplement launches having an energy claim in 2016 and its CAGR amounting to a strong +86.7 percent.

Food Ingredients News

Pea stars for Roquette amid alternative protein boom

11 Dec 2017 --- Roquette’s range of pea proteins took a starring role at FiE 2017, and would seem to have a bright future in products promoted by the company. According to the company’s representatives, a key highlight of the company’s newest range of products is around plant-based proteins – many of which are based on pea proteins.

Business News

Consuming sugary drinks during pregnancy may increase asthma risk in mid-childhood

08 Dec 2017 --- Children between the ages of 7 and 9 may be at greater risk for developing asthma if they consumed high amounts of fructose in early childhood or their mothers drank a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages while pregnant, according to new research published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

More Articles
URL : http://www.nutritioninsight.com:80/news/uks-voluntary-pledge-to-provide-calorie-content-information-for-alcoholic-drinks-failing-to-make-an-impact.html