Britain heading towards alcohol obesity
The average adult is drinking enough lager, wine, cider and spirits to add almost 3,000 calories to their weekly calorific intake.
This is the equivalent to 500 calories above the average male recommended daily limit of 2,500 calories and 50% more than the advised maximum of 2,000 calories a day for a woman.
Annually UK adults are drinking around 155,000 calories through alcohol, adding to the country’s growing obesity problems. With 3,500 extra calories creating one pound of fat, adults are drinking enough alcohol each year to add 44lbs to their bodyweight, or just over three stone.
Men are downing the most calories through alcohol, just short of 200,000 calories annually. On a weekly basis men are consuming 3,836 calories through drink which equates to one and a half days of extra calories a week. Normal strength lager (3% proof) and Continental lager (around 5%) are men’s favourite alcoholic drinks, closely followed by wine and spirits.
But the study found that women are not far behind men in the alcohol adding calorie stakes. The average female is drinking more than 2,100 calories through drink each week which adds up to 110,000 each year. Small and large measures of red and white wine are the main source of alcohol calories for women followed by spirits, lager and alcopops.
Mick James, Protection Marketing Manager for Standard Life said: “These numbers paint a stark picture of how Britain is heading towards alcoholic induced obesity. With clear links to the incidence of diabetes, hypertension, heart attack and other cardiovascular conditions, obesity is of growing concern to public health. There is also a degree of evidence to suggest obesity has actually been reversing the improvements in mortality, made as a result of improvements to medicine. Society seems to be making choices to shorten its life expectancy.”
Overall alcoholic intake could be adding an extra 15% to women’s recommended annual calorie intake – and increasing men’s by 22%.
In terms of fat, women could potentially be adding 31 Ibs a year through drink while men are risking an extra 56 Ibs. The alcohol calorie consumption is at its highest between Friday and Sunday with 68% of women and 64% of men upping their intake as soon as work’s over on Friday. Both men and women drink 25% more between Friday and Sunday than they do between Monday and Thursday each week.
What are the alcoholic drinks with the highest calorific value?
Pint of strong lager – 335 calories
Pint of continental lager – 256 calories
Pint of cider – 239 calories
Large glass of wine – 185 calories
Pint of lager – 182 calories
Alcopop – 179 calories
Mick James said: “These figures really put into perspective just what a key part drink plays in our calorie intake and our health. Most people are clearly unaware just how calorific a pint of lager or a glass of wine is.
“The strength of lager and varying measures in different bars and restaurants also has an impact. But when we are out having a good time we don’t always notice the difference between weak lager and some Belgian brands or that a glass of wine was actually more than double a small measure.”
Yet 44% of women and a third of men (32%) insist they are very conscious about how many calories they consume through food. 10% of women admit to counting the calories on a daily basis with their food intake.
More than 60% of women and three quarters of men (74%) admit that they either don’t know how many calories are in alcohol or are not sure.
James concluded: “The indirect financial impact of a ‘growing’ nation can affect anything from your private medical insurance to life insurance and critical illness insurance, which can all be far more expensive if you have a body mass index over the average for your height and age. In the worst case scenario you might actually be declined cover.
“Someone with a body mass index over 30 is technically obese. We would typically charge an extra 75% for someone’s life insurance with a BMI between 32.6 and 35.”
Top drinks - Women
1. Red and white wine
3. Plain lager
>6. Rich liqueurs
7. Joint seventh place for cocktails and single whiskey/brandy
8. Joint eight place continental lager and single liqueur
9. Strong cider
Top drinks - Men
2. Red and white wine
3. Joint third place for continental lager and spirits
5. Single whiskey/brandy
7. Joint seventh place for cocktails and strong cider
8. Joint eight place for single and rich liqueurs