The concept of a ‘dry January’ has become synonymous with people who drink. Whilst most people who sign up to this do so as a way to ‘detox’ after a busy Christmas and New Year, what many people don’t realise, due to the lack of information, is that they are also reducing their weekly calorie intake at the same time. A bottle of white wine can contain between 800-1000 calories per bottle. Below I speak to one of our clients who has played a vital role in encouraging the drinks industry to show the calorific content in their products.
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe is a Labour Peer who focuses on health issues, in the House of Lords, related to drink and the links to Obesity and calories. I sat down with Lord Brooke and asked him about how he became interested in this subject and how h22020e sees the future.
How did you become interested in this subject?
Lord Brooke: I worked on a Lords committee that scrutinised European Union Legislation. The EU writes rules on what should appear on food and drink labels (eg Calories). In 2010 I spotted that alcohol was exempt even though there is a lot of sugar- and calories- in many alcoholic drinks. I discovered that all attempts to cover alcohol with the legislation had been thwarted by the powerful drinks lobby. They had managed to delay any further reviews until 2014.
Have you encountered any resistance to your idea of placing calorie content on the packaging of alcohol?
Yes, much. Initially the Dept. Of Health was lukewarm. They have changed their approach as obesity has become a bigger problem. However, the Government has refused to legislate because they argue they are bound by EU rules. Instead they have opted for a voluntary approach, but this has let the powerful drinks lobby, which opposes this change, off the hook.
Why do you think they are reticent to show calories on their products?
We have a right to know what we are consuming- and that is what the public constantly say when polled on this topic. Some retailers- such as Sainsbury’s have taken notice and are now showing calories on their own branded alcoholic products. But most do not- simply because they feel that when informed of sugar and calorie content, people would reduce their consumption of alcohol which in turn would have an adverse effect on sales and therefore profits.
The amount we drink is decreasing, yet obesity is rising. Why the paradox?
Obesity is growing because we eat and drink too much, especially sugar. And we exercise too little. Drinking has fallen due to the recession and, cultural and demographic changes in the country. However, the United Kingdom is still nearly at the top of the European league tables for both alcohol consumption and for levels of obesity.
Where do you see the future, say in three years time?
Obesity is the big health problem facing the country. The long term forecasts only make the outlook more depressing. Late this year the Government will produce a new multifaceted strategy to tackle this issue. There is no single silver bullet answer. Reducing alcohol consumption will be part of this strategy. Diageo have just announced that all its brands will carry calorie and sugar content on its packaging from the end of 2016.
Click on the link below and find out the facts they don’t want you to know: