Online Program

Fighting obesity: The campaign to include calorie labeling on alcoholic drinks

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Fiona Sim, MB, BS, MSc, 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, will permit the consumer to make more informed and healthier choices about the food and drink they purchase.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the role of social drinking and the calories in alcoholic drinks in tackling the obesity epidemic. Identify the calorie values of common alcoholic beverages and how they contribute to overall calorie intake in adults.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Many years' experience in leadership roles in health career management and in public health in the UK. Current chair, Royal Society for Public Health.
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.