People in the UK are consuming more calories from alcohol than they are through fizzy drinks, according to new data.
A report by Euromonitor International found that 23 out of 24 countries analysed had a higher daily calorie intake from booze than from fizzy drinks.
In the UK, for example, adults consume more than 106 calories each, every day, from alcoholic drinks. In contrast, they consume 98 calories from sugar-sweetened drinks such as cola and lemonade.
While the UK government has pledged to introduce a sugar tax on fizzy drinks such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Lucozade Energy, the new findings suggest that more should also be done to tackle the nation’s drinking problem.
According to the new report, the country that consumes the most sugar from alcoholic beverages is South Korea, where people consume around 168 calories from alcohol each day, compared to 44 calories from sugary drinks.
Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic were also high on the list, followed by Finland, Japan, Russia, France, the UK and Bulgaria.
Taiwan was the only country analysed which didn’t consume more calories from alcohol than fizzy drinks.
Euromonitor’s nutrition analyst, Sara Petersson, said more needs to be done to tackle alcohol consumption.
“It is very interesting because the whole reason why soft drinks are under attack is because they are liquid calories. We don’t have a compensatory mechanism that says we should eat less after drinking them,” she told The Guardian.
“It works the same way with alcohol and, if anything, not only does it have a worse health effect but it is an appetite stimulant which makes you eat more.
“That is not to take anything away from the need to reduce sugar. That is crucial because it is a very important source of weight gain.”
Tackling alcohol consumption could help combat obesity, which can lead to health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease, Petersson said.
One quarter of people in the UK are now obese, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, and NHS England is spending roughly £16 billion a year on the direct medical costs of conditions related to being overweight or obese.
“When we think about the calories we consume we always think about chocolate bars, cakes, crisps and biscuits, as these are the ‘naughty’ high fat and sugar containing foods,” Dr Helen Webberley, the dedicated GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, told The Huffington Post UK.
“However, we often forget how much sugar there is in the drinks we consume.
“Equally, when we think about alcohol, we think about the liver and the effects that alcohol may have on our organs, but we don’t tend to think so much about how it might impact our weight.
“Most people would be shocked at the amount of calories found in wine and beer. Even different wines and beers vary in the amount of sugar that they contain.”
Dr Webberley added that “it would be very wise to display calorie content more clearly on all alcoholic beverages”.
“People often tell me of the ‘surprising’ weight loss they experience when they take part in Stoptober or Dry January,” she continued. “This shouldn’t come as such a surprise and clearer labelling would help in the education process.”