How many calories in a drink? Researchers say alcohol labels should spell it out

VICTORIA — A study suggests the average Canadian drinker receives more than one-tenth of their daily recommended calories from alcoholic beverages, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the label.

Researchers at University of Victoria looked at Statistics Canada data on alcohol sales and consumption between 2015-2016 to calculate how many calories Canadians consume from booze.

The study, originally published in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research in February, estimates the average Canadian drinker consumes 250 calories from alcohol per day — the equivalent of a grab bag of chips.

Lead author Adam Sherk says when it comes to binge drinking, or four to five drinks per occasion, the number of additional calories rises to 550 per day, or about 25 per cent of the recommended daily caloric intake.

The post-doctoral fellow at University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research says previous studies suggest people tend not to consider alcohol part of their overall calorie count.

Sherk says these findings all point to the need for nutritional information to be required on labels for alcoholic beverages, as it is for almost all other packaged food and drinks.

A spokesperson for Health Canada says alcohol is exempt from such labelling because doing so would be a complex matter given its overall impact on health.

“The short- and long-term effects of alcohol on physical and mental health, as well as its addictive qualities and potential adverse consequences are all important considerations that are unrelated to the nutritional quality of these products,” said Geoffroy Legault-Thivierge in an emailed statement.

There is a risk people would infer a nutritional benefit from alcoholic beverages with a label strongly associated with food, he added.

“Decisions about drinking alcoholic beverages must go beyond looking at the label to determine the nutritional profile of such beverages.”

But Sherk says labels could also be used to communicate information about alcohol’s other health risks, including cancer, stroke and heart disease.

“What we’re kind of putting forward here is that as a consumer and as a drinker, we have a right to know about the stuff we’re taking into our bodies.”

Ultimately, he said, it will be up to consumers to decide what to do with that information.

“If they want to leave their drinking unchanged, that’s their prerogative,” he said. “We think it’s just the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint.”

Just Posted

Red Deer woman lives 102 years with humour, ‘gentle strength’ — and porridge

Minnie Deibert was surrounded by family and friends at her birthday party Sunday

Boy escapes serious injury after falling from third-storey window

SURREY, B.C. — A little boy is very lucky to have escaped… Continue reading

Harmonic singing for young women will be taught at a fall workshop in Red Deer

The Hearts of Harmony Chorus is presenting the Nov. 16 session

‘Crying out for help:’ Calgary radicalization program evolves to help others

CALGARY — The soft-spoken young man wasn’t being recruited by neo-Nazis or… Continue reading

Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees as part of United Nations challenge

Victoria is promising to plant 5,000 trees on public and private land… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday Bower Place Community Association Seniors Card and Coffee party at 1:30… Continue reading

Liberals pitch middle-class savings as second full week of campaign beckons

OTTAWA — The Liberals tried to turn the page on Justin Trudeau’s… Continue reading

Democrats blast latest Trump crisis. But what will they do?

WASHINGTON — A whistleblower’s complaint over President Donald Trump’s interactions with a… Continue reading

Face transplant recipient’s donor face now failing

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A woman who was severely burned in a domestic… Continue reading

Charity boat with 182 migrants waits to dock in Europe

A non-profit-run ship carrying 182 migrants rescued on the Mediterranean Sea sailed… Continue reading

Singh-Trudeau meeting will be private, say Liberals, but no time set yet

OTTAWA — The Liberal Party pledged Saturday to keep private the details… Continue reading

Glen Assoun calls for reform in how Ottawa considers cases of wrongful conviction

HALIFAX — Tethered to an ankle monitor and alone in a British… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Saturday nights $9 million Lotto 649 jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $9 million jackpot… Continue reading

Most Read