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Call made for ‘ready to drink’ alcoholic beverages to be reduced in sugar

According to a new survey from Action on Sugar, popular ‘ready to drink’ pre-mixed spirits and cocktails sold in supermarkets are high in ‘hidden’ sugar and calories.

According to a new product survey by Action on Sugar at Queen Mary University of London, popular ‘ready to drink’ pre-mixed spirits sold in major UK retailers are unnecessarily high in hidden sugar and calories (based on the measurements that alcohol contains seven calories per gram and sugar contains four calories per gram).

Now, Action For Sugar is calling for retailers to reformulate these drinks immediately to the agreed criterion set by the government in the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) or pay the fine.

“This is the first time a survey of this kind has been conducted and the results highlight an immediate need for alcoholic drinks to be included in vital public health policies,” said Holly Gabriel, Registered Nutritionist, Action on Sugar. “Customers should be able to purchase better options and reformulating these drinks with less sugar, calories and alcohol is one way to achieve this.

“Our survey clearly shows that similar drinks can be made with less sugar and calories, yet drink manufacturers are failing to take the appropriate action. Urgent attention is required from the government to ensure that gaps in the law do not contribute to the rise in obesity and related health conditions, as well as alcohol harm.”

The group of experts at Action on Sugar now warn that sugary alcoholic drinks are contributing to obesity, type 2 diabetes, various cancers, liver damage and tooth decay as consumers are unknowingly drinking large amounts of sugar and calories. It is urging the government to prove it really is committed to prevention and reducing inequalities, by stepping in and taking control of not only the food and drink industries, but also the alcohol industry.

The survey incorporated a total of 202 ‘ready to drink’ alcoholic beverages sold in-store and online. Action On Sugar says that out of the 154 products collected in-store, nutrition information on pack was low making it difficult for consumers to know exactly what they are drinking with 63 products (41 percent) in-store having some form of nutrition information on pack and 14 products (9 percent) having ‘sugar’ information on pack.

If consumers knew how much sugar was really in these drinks, would they still happily choose to drink their way to tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes?”

“‘Gin in a tin’ has become a cultural phenomenon with these types of drinks often consumed ‘on the go’ and without a moment’s consideration to how much sugar and alcohol goes into making them,” added Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director at Action on Sugar, based at Queen Mary University of London. “Even if you did want to know, you can’t make a healthy choice as only one in ten of the products surveyed had enough information available.

“If consumers knew how much sugar was really in these drinks, would they still happily choose to drink their way to tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes?”

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