Life Wellbeing Know how many calories in your drink? Most of us don’t, research says

Know how many calories in your drink? Most of us don’t, research says

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If you knew how many calories are in your pint of beer or glass of pinot, would it change how many you drink? Or what you ate that day?

Only you know for sure, but science wants to get an answer for the collective population.

The answer could lead to an overhaul of the way we package and display the nutritional information on alcohol – from how many calories or kilojoules it contains to how much exercise it will take to burn off.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool pooled a bunch of other studies that investigated if drinkers knew how much energy per drink they were consuming.

Turns out, we’ve got no clue – well, 74 per cent of us anyway.

Three out of four people don’t know that a bottle of Peroni beer has 136 calories or that a standard glass of chardonnay has 84, to cite just two examples.

The researchers are theorising that if our bottles of wine or pre-mixed vodka sodas did display this information, it could go some way to lowering obesity rates around the globe.

It’s an option being discussed by the government in the UK at the moment, study the study’s lead author Eric Robinson said.

“Although it’s unclear if calorie labels will have a meaningful impact on what people choose to drink, making sure drinks have to be clearly labelled is a step in the right direction and may also encourage the alcohol industry to cut calories in drinks.”


There’s approximately 115 calories in a standard glass of shiraz. Is that more or less than you thought? Photo: Getty

While Dr Robinson and his team concluded more research is needed to find out what people would do when presented with the information (Would they drink more? Less? Switch to a different drink?), he noted that it was interesting that drinkers generally overestimated calories, rather than underestimating them.

This prompted the researchers to wonder if this is resulting in drinkers limiting their food intake to “make up for” the calories they think they’re consuming. This can lead to harmful drinking patterns.

In Australia, alcoholic beverages aren’t required to display an nutritional information panel unless the product claims a health benefit, such as low-carbohydrate or gluten-free.

However, there’s preliminary work underway from Food Standards Australia and New Zealand to see if energy information – that’s calorie/kilojoule content – on alcoholic drink containers would help promote better choices.