Majority of Brits don’t know calorie content of their drink, claims research

Posted: 9 July 2021 | | No comments yet

New research from the Alcohol Health Alliance has revealed a distinct lack of knowledge among British consumers around nutritional and health guidelines when it comes to alcoholic drinks.

alcoholic drinks

Health experts are calling for better alcohol labelling as new research from the Alcohol Health Alliance suggests that most of the public do not know the nutritional information of popular alcoholic drinks. The research also showed that the majority of Brits do not know the Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) drinking guidelines and were unlikely to look beyond the label in order to find health information on alcohol.

A new poll from YouGov asked the public to estimate how many calories were in a number of popular drinks.

It was found:


Correctly estimated

Incorrectly estimated

Didn’t Know

A medium glass (175ml) of wine at 12 percent ABV

20 percent

(67 to 200 calories)

19 percent

61 percent

A pint (568ml) of lager at 5 percent ABV

23 percent

(120 to 359 calories)

15 percent

62 percent

A single measure (25ml) of spirits at 40 percent ABV

9 percent

(24 to 71 calories)

28 percent

63 percent

The public were also asked if they knew the maximum number of units of alcohol that people are advised to drink a week, as recommended by the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs). According to the study, just 18 knew that the CMOs’ drinking guideline is a maximum of 14 units per week. 34 percent of the public did not know and 48 percent answered incorrectly. 

Although many alcohol labels display a website for consumers to visit to find out about health harms from alcohol, just three percent of those surveyed by YouGov had visited a website printed on an alcohol product.

“Alcohol labelling in this country is leaving consumers in the dark about what exactly their drink contains,” said Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance.

“Displaying basic product information, such as calorie content, empowers the consumer to make informed choices about what, and how much, they decide to drink. This information should be displayed clearly on the product they are buying. They should not have to research basic health information online.

“The upcoming Government consultation on calorie labelling is a great opportunity for change. Requiring the display of calorie content on alcoholic drinks would bring alcohol labelling in line with food and soft drink labelling and would help to address the fact that most adults in the UK do not know the calorie content of alcohol.

“But the public is entitled to know more than just calorie content. It is concerning that only 18 percent of the public are aware of the CMOs’ drinking guideline. Including this essential health information on the label, along with other legible important health warnings and drink drive and pregnancy warnings, would help educate the public about the risks associated with drinking and could help reduce alcohol harm by prompting behaviour change.”

Related organisations

Related regions

Related people