The argument over restrictions being put on alcohol producers rages on this week and I'm still silently screaming my own solution. Organisations like Alcohol Concern and the British Medical Association have accused the Department of Health of letting the drinks industry influence health policies.
The aim is to get the drinks industry to agree to a number of pledges like raising the awareness of unit content in alcoholic pub/club drinks and trying to put systems in place to reduce the number of under-age drinkers.
The main beef that organisations involved in the government's Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network have is that these promises are not specific enough or measurable. Personally, I don't think putting unit measures on drinks is particularly deterring or helpful. I know I'm technically allowed 2-3 “units” a day and roughly what constitutes a unit (a small glass of wine or half pint) but never actually think in units when out drinking, who does?
Instead of seemingly abstract measurements, why not talk in calories – after all, we all know that men are supposed to have a daily intake of around 2,500 and women 2,000. I'm confident that labelling all alcoholic drinks, including on-tap pints, with their calorie intake would be a sure way to make a few people think more carefully. Sure there'd still be plenty of folk who have never struggled with their weight or really aren't interested in weight control but I'm sure there'd be a lot of others, surprised by how “fattening” drinks actually are. Some of the most shocking are seemingly fruity must-be-good-for-you cocktails that sometimes actually have a higher calorie content than an entire meal, a Long Island Iced Tea contains a staggering 780 calories after all: www.wineinyourdiet.com/Wine_diet_nutrition_articles/haaj.php
I've been on and off dieting for a while now in my own twisted way and actually sought out the calorie content of some of my favourite ciders but couldn't find this information anywhere, despite Internet searches. If the government forced the drinks industry to print all “nutritional” information on all packaging, they may well get a double whammy, tackling both obesity issues and so-called “binge drinking”.
The only possible side-affect might be the rise in popularity of spirits and no-added sugar mixers – after all, when dieting and in need of kicking back a few vodka and diet cokes are excusable. Certainly spirit manufacturers could initially flourish, but I'm sure in little time whole new ranges of low-fat alcoholic drinks would be on the market at less expense than current brands. According to the Office for National Statistics the number of alcohol-related deaths has climbed steadily since the early 1990s and figures from a study by Datamonitor show a quarter of Britons are obese (a body index of 30 or more) and we're the fourth fattest European country so why not fight both my declaring calorie consumption?