Alcohol in spotlight as calorie content rivals soft drinks

Alcohol could face increased scrutiny from campaigners and the Government after researchers compared it with other calorie sources, such as soft drinks.

Alcohol could face increased scrutiny from campaigners and the Government after researchers found it contributes more than soft drinks to the UK’s calorie consumption.

The majority of the countries included in Euromonitor’s latest ‘Passport: Nutrition’ study consumed more calories from alcoholic drinks than they did from soft drinks.

MP Maggie Throup, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Childhood and Adult Obesity, said the link between alcohol consumption and obesity needed more attention.

“It’s something that needs to be talked about far more,” she said, pointing to the childhood obesity strategy’s plan for the sugar tax. “Ministers need to consider whether a strategy is needed to target adults.”

However, Gareth Barrett, public affairs manager at the British Soft Drinks Association, said the body would actively campaign against a similar measure being taken on alcohol.

“We don’t think taxes applied in this way work in reducing obesity,” he said. “A tax on sugar sets the precedent that taxing food and drink on health grounds is feasible, and can spread as far and wide as the Government desires.”

Clearer calorie labelling on alcohol would be a more effective measure than any form of taxation, suggested Chris Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs. 

“People have a right to know what they’re consuming,” he said, adding that Euromonitor’s results reflected that the public “doesn’t get much of its calorie intake from sugary soft drinks”.

Sara Petersson, senior nutrition analyst at Euromonitor, said preliminary research showed that food and drink sin tax was “hardly ever effective”, and any impact was only temporary.


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