Online Program

Fighting obesity: A campaign to introduce calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

Dr. Fiona Sim, MB, BS, MSc, LLM, FRCP, FFPH, Royal Society for Public Health, London, E1 8AN, United Kingdom

The obesity epidemic is being tackled by local and national interventions designed to encourage a healthier balance between dietary calorie intake and physical activity. In adults, whilst the consumption of alcoholic beverages is widespread, the part played by alcohol in contributing to obesity has rarely been highlighted in strategies to tackle or prevent obesity.

In the UK in late 2014, we decided to investigate the part played by alcohol in the obesity epidemic. We conducted a large online survey to ascertain people’s knowledge of the calorie value of alcoholic drinks and conducted a small scale experiment in a London pub to test our hypothesis that typical pub customers do not consider the calorie value of their drinks. The findings showed that most members of the public have no idea that alcoholic drinks contribute substantially to their daily or weekly calorie intake and that reducing their intake of calories from alcohol could help in efforts to maintain a healthy weight or to reduce excess weight.

Our action research was part of our campaign to introduce calorie labelling on bottled and canned alcoholic drinks. The European Union is now considering this proposal. In the EU foodstuffs must, by law, display calorie information, but this has not, to date, applied to alcoholic drinks. It is our contention that labelling for calories, as well as for units of alcohol, worldwide, will permit the consumer to make more informed and healthier choices about the food and drink they purchase.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the roles of social drinking and awareness of the calories in alcoholic drinks in tackling the obesity epidemic.

Keyword(s): Obesity, Alcohol Use

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As chair of RSPH and a public health physician, I have been involved in the RSPH campaign for alcohol calorie labelling and the associated research described in this abstract; and I have appeared on TV several times to explain the campaign and research findings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.