CHOICE membership

Do you want to know how many kJs are in your wine, beer or spirits?

Hi all, we are interested in your views on alcohol labels. Currently there is an exemption in our food labelling laws that means that alcoholic beverages do not need to display energy or nutritional information on their labels.

Considering all other food and drinks need to provide this information, do you think this loop-hole should be closed? Would you like wines, beers and spirits to label the energy content (kJs) of their product? Would you like any other nutritional information?

Thanks,
Katinka

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I believe that the law should be amended to cover alcoholic products, particularly when they sell some that are termed “low carb”. Alcohol in itself is highly calorific and you would be better off consuming low alcohol drinks than consuming what they term “low carb”. Labels indicating energy information I think would soon kill the “low carb” idea as well as informing consumers about how much energy there is in their drinks.

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Alcohol definitely needs calorie and kilojoules labeled because light beers and low sugar alcohol is only slightly reduced in calories or sugar. This is important because alcohol is the most easily absorbed form of sugar and is the most easily converted to belly fat.Australia is the obesity capital of the world so it should be part of a health warning label( that should include addiction,danger of operating machinery and other dangers).

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Yes. I want clear labelling on all processed consumable products.

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Paul, alcohol is not a sugar although it has calories and is easily absorbed. Why do you say it is easily converted to belly fat? Any other calorific substances in a beverage such as simple starches or sugars will be absorbed fairly quickly as well as the alcohol. Are these not converted to belly fat too? Australians are fairly high on the list of obese countries (#26 on one survey) but by no means the highest.

I question the usefulness of putting caloric data on alcoholic drinks. Firstly, I doubt that it will have much effect as the great majority of people take no notice of calorie data anyway. Secondly, if you are drinking so much that it is significantly putting weight on you then you are drinking far more than is good for you due to the direct effects of alcohol. If avoiding problems with their heart, liver, brain, cancer, immune system etc from excess alcohol will not get people to reduce consumption I don’t think the added risk of putting on weight will bother them. As you say it is addictive.

In my view there is a risk that enforcing such rules will be used by some to say that they have done something good when in fact they haven’t done anything useful at all and the cost would have been better put towards something that does work. I would be interested to know if there is any international evidence that supports the idea that such a warning will actually alter behavior.

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From the Drinkaware site comes this:

"Because alcohol is made from sugar or starch, it contains lots of calories – seven calories a gram in fact, almost as many as pure fat!(1) "

“Drinking alcohol also reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy(2). While we can store nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat in our bodies, we can’t store alcohol. So our systems want to get rid of it, and doing so takes priority. All of the other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients and burning fat) are interrupted.”

The references 1 & 2 are noted here:

(1) NHS Choices website. Calories in alcohol. The Information Standard member organisation. Last reviewed: 16/12/2014. Available at:
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/calories-in-alcohol.aspx

(2)Charles S. Lieber, 2000, ‘Alcohol: Its Metabolism and Interaction With Nutrients’, Annual Review of Nutrition, vol. 2, pp. 395-430. Available at:
http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.nutr.20.1.395

So it may not be the Alcohol that is converted to Belly Fat (though if used in excess it may be) but it certainly affects the use of energy from other foods so that more body fat may be laid down rather than the energy source, food, being used.

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Thanks for the info grahrol. To syncretic, yes and no, regarding alcohol and obesity. While its true that light to moderate alcohol consumption doesn’t necessarily add body weight or belly fat, I’ve read that beer consumption in males does induce fat to accumulate at the abdomen first and more than at other areas. Beer having higher carbohydrate content than wine and spirits may be a factor.
I still would personally welcome an improved labelling on alcoholic drinks because people are becoming more interested in health and deserve to have more information available. The example of tobacco warnings shows that labels have influence but I agree that labels need to be done effectively and not for superficial motives to say “we tried”. No I don’t know of any labelling studies or success overseas . We can try here and break knew ground.
I stand corrected -Australia is not the most obese nation. Of high populus nations Mexico has highest prevalence appr.35% then US 30%, New Zealand 26%, Australia 24.5% and Nauru the highest of smaller nations at 70%. We do however have an obesity epidemic that causes other problems like diabetes so the extent is significant to the issue of alcohol labelling.Calories do count and should be listed,but perhaps another type of warning may be a deterrent to heavy drinking if labeled clearly rather than in fine print. Sorry I can’t provide references so regard it as opinion I suppose.

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I think they should label the contents of all alcohol drinks with KJ . calorie and any preservative or enhancer additives that may be used there in . I had an allergic reaction while dining out recently after consuming a glass of claret . I lost my voice . It has happened to me b before with certain brands of beer but never wine . /
My doctor told me recently that the rate of allergy growth amongst the population is going up at a staggering rate . I think what happened over summer in Victoria when all those people were hospitalised and there were fatalities when the wind swung from North to South proves her correct . We certainly can’t live in plastic bubbles but I certainly would like to know what I am ingesting into my body.

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I’d prefer to see a list of ingredients, which is absent for almost all alcoholic drinks. Since I brew my own ales using my home grown fruit, I know what is in them, but not what is in any bought alcoholic drinks.
I suspect the “low carb” label some advertise is more related to marketing than any real feature of the drink. Almost all the sugar added to the brew is converted to alcohol by the yeast, only some sugars such as lactose are not fermented to alcohol, and they make up a very small fraction of the contents if they have been added, so I suspect pretty much all beer is low carb anyway.
If you are really concerned with counting calories, you probably would not be consuming much in the way of alcoholic beverage, with 7 kcal per gram of alcohol, not far short of the 9kcal/gram in fat.

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grahroll, I get the point that alcohol is metabolised preferentially but this doesn’t mean that it puts weight on you any more than the same number of calories from some other source once they are eventually all digested. I don’t know for sure but my feeling is that total balance of usable calories ingested against calories burned would be much more important than the source. Perhaps a dietitian is lurking that could help here?

The phenomenon of the mainly male beer belly seems to come from a combination of the excess calories in the beer (from various sources) plus food, and a gender difference in how males and females store extra fat. As it was put to me ‘women go pear-shaped (put on fat round hips and thighs) and men go apple-shaped (put on fat around the belly)’. But we digress from drink labeling.

If you eat x number of kj and drink x number of kj of alcohol and x + x is greater than your needs you will put on fat as you would eating the same amount of energy but likely not the same amount of fat. Because alcohol takes precedence over other food types the body breaks down the alcohol to produce the energy (as otherwise it is toxic to the body) and the other food energy is stored as fat. Combined with this is that Alcohol also interrupts other pathways in your metabolism that hinder conversion of fats into energy thereby promoting fat deposition rather than fat usage. Alcohol is this context is actually creating a pathway to an increase in fat deposits.

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Yes. Alcohol should be held to the same nutritional disclosure standards as soft drinks.

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Would definitely like to see nutritional content or at least kJs on alcohol labels.

So many people do not realise how many Kj’s they are drinking

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No. I don’t want to know :slight_smile:

… but yes, it would be fair to expect anyone selling something you put into your body with the potential for digestion, ingestion, suggestion … oh, anyway, to include ‘the outcome’ of using it - food, drink, medicine, recreational inhalants, etc. We seem to target what to know based on what is the use, rather than being comprehensive. Probably a big ask given the clowns running the show seem happy for us to have to hunt for the information of how much we are buying …

Yes, it would be a good thing …

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I don’t really need to know, but it seems to me that anything made for people to ingest should be clearly labelled with as much nutritional information as possible, including kj, cals, carbs etc. and ingredients and country of origin of ingredients etc.,

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You have all seen the bloke sitting at the corner of the bar. He is not concerned about how many kj’s in a pot of beer. Hell, he has seen more life than the mob of concerned citizens that write to this. Oh, yes be afraid, very afraid, if you dare drink something not approved by Canberra. Bloody hell, live life.

I think we all deserve information on ingredients and the like in all products. On the other hand I am befuddled by the new Wowser movement that has a head of steam in Australia. I would not like the campaign to be captured by those people.

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This academic discussion about whether alcohol or sugar is the culprit in the obesity epidemic is just that - academic discussion. I don’t think there would be anyone who actually thought any alcoholic beverage is actually a nutritional liquid (spare me your dissertations on the merits of red wine or guinness) any more than a soft drink is. We all know the perils of drinking too much alcohol and unfortunately Australians are pretty good at it. No event seems complete without a well stocked bar. The point being no amount of nutritional data on bottles of people’s favourite tipple will stop them drinking it. If people drink more than is healthy they will not be looking for the nutritional panel. Lets fight the battles we can win. This one is a hiding to no-where.

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I think it’s unnecessary. Alcohol is never an essential part of any meal. It is an indulgence item, like chocolate, so people consume it for other reasons, regardless of nutritional values. I personally would never read this on a bottle of wine I wanted to drink.

I think it would be great. Quite often I would look to see this. For example if you drink rum and coke you can wake up putting on over a kilo. So this sort of labeling would be awesome. I think most women and some men would use it.

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