Analysis probes if labeling alcohol calories could address obesity

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Labeling calories has become more and more prominent in more places in recent years. Restaurant menus can include calorie counts and nutrition labels have them more prominently displayed.

But not all alcohols tell you how many calories you consume with each glass or pint.

An analysis published Feb. 2 in the peer-reviewed journal Obesity Reviews provides a summary of 18 study results that have reviewed what customers know about alcoholic drinks’ calorie content, public backing to label those beverages’ calories and how it impacts consumers, according to a Wednesday news release.

Researchers discovered moderate evidence of people being unaware of how many calories were in alcoholic beverages and they supported that information being provided on the label. No evidence was found that having a label affected consumption levels. However, the majority of studies were not conducted in real-life situations and were of low quality.

“The U.K. government is considering whether calorie labeling of alcoholic drinks can help address obesity,” said lead author Eric Robinson, Ph.D., of the University of Liverpool, in the U.K. “Although it’s unclear if calorie labels will have a meaningful impact on what people choose to drink, making sure drinks have to be clearly labeled is a step in the right direction and may also encourage the alcohol industry to cut calories in drinks.”

The findings come months after the results of a study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research showed that by 2050, more than 4 billion people could be overweight. The same study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports in November, found that 1.5 billion people could be obese.

“Unhealthy diets are the world’s largest health risks,” co-author Sabine Gabrysch, head of PIK’s Research Department on Climate Resilience said in a statement. “While many countries in Asia and Africa currently still struggle with undernutrition and associated health problems, they are increasingly also faced with overweight, and as a consequence, with a rising burden of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.”