Calls for calorie labels on wine and beer "spectacularly miss the mark"

31 October, 2014

Twinn: campaign confuses obesity and binge drinking

The trade body for advertisers has hit back at the health lobby’s renewed calls for calorie labels on alcohol, saying they “miss the point spectacularly”.

The Royal Society for Public Health said alcohol should have a calorie content label in order to reduce obesity after its research suggested “80% of adults have no idea what the calorie count is in anything they’re drinking”.

Public health minister Jane Ellison promised the government would look at the issue.

But Ian Twinn, director of public affairs at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, said: “Both obesity and excessive alcohol consumption are real issues that government have a stake in.

“The trouble with the claims by the medical campaigners and the pressure group activists is that they fail to see the whole picture.

“Calls for yet more info on labels misses the point rather spectacularly. Alcohol producers, through the Portman Group and their support for the Drinkaware campaigns have consistently focused the public's mind on responsible drinking. Understanding the amount of alcohol and its impact is important to us all.

“Today’s PR campaign from the obesity lobby confuses the binge drinking and obesity messages.

“Surely doctors and public health officials need to wonder why people do not understand the blindingly obvious that most food and drink will make us fat if we have too much and do not follow a balanced diet. Campaigns to make us aware of this simple fact would be a lot more effective than hectoring campaigns against consumers and businesses.”

The Portman Group agreed, adding: “Drinks producers can play a key role in informing and educating consumers and are open to further discussions about calorie information.

“However, it is essential that alcohol content, not calorie content, should primarily inform consumer decision-making.”

But Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: “A calorie-count on wine and beer bottles can't come soon enough.

“Just one premium lager contains by itself contains enough calories for a small meal and, added to the meal itself, eats up a chunk of anyone's maximum allowance.”

Ellison said: “It is very positive to see that people want more information to help them lead a healthier life.

“We have made great strides in food labelling and customers can see at a glance the calories they are consuming on many products.

“While it is already possible for alcohol producers and retailers to display calorie content on their labels, we will continue to look at what else can be done to help people make healthier lifestyle choices.”

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