The average wine drinker puts on half of stone of fat in a year due to the excess calories they consume, a new campaign will highlight.
The high calorific content of alcohol will be the latest focus of the Government’s drive on Britain’s drinking culture.
The hope is that by showing that the average wine drinker consumes an extra 2,000 calories a month – over a year this would be the equivalent of eating 184 bags of crisps – people will cut down on their alcohol.
Britain is one of the fattest nations in Europe and is also classed as being home to the biggest drinkers.
In England two thirds of adults and one third of children are either overweight or obese.
Few middle class drinkers realise that a couple sharing a bottle of red wine a night are both consuming the equivalent of a Snickers chocolate bar in alcohol. This means a woman would consume eight days’ worth of calories in a week. Over a year this would mean putting more than two stone in fat unless those extra calories were burned off in exercise or food intake was reduced to compensate.
A man drinking five pints of lager a week would consume 44,200 calories in alcohol a year, the equivalent to 221 doughnuts, and put on 12 pounds of fat unless he cut his diet elsewhere.
A YouGov poll found that the average wine drinker admits to consuming around a bottle of wine per week, a spokesman for the Department of Health said.
A survey conducted by the Know Your Limits campaign found that one in three drinkers say they order crisps, nuts or pork scratching with their alcohol, piling on more calories and a fifth would grab a burger or takeaway when drinking more than two pints of beer or two glasses of wine.
A person needs to consume 500 more calories a day than they burn off for a week, or 3,500 calories in total, to put on between one and two pounds of fat, a spokesman for the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research centre in Cambridge said.
Government guidelines say women should drink no more than two to three units a day and men no more than three to four. There is eight grams of alcohol and seven calories in a UK unit of alcohol.
Heather Caswell, spokesperson for the British Nutrition Foundation added: “Many women don’t know that two large glasses of white wine not only puts them over the recommended daily limit for alcohol consumption, but also provides them with nearly 20 per cent of their daily calorie allowance, at approximately 370kcals in total.
“Most people would baulk at consuming a full glass of single cream, but wouldn’t think twice about a couple of pints. But the calorie content is similar and, over time, excess alcohol intake is likely to lead to weight gain.
“Sticking to sensible drinking habits and keeping to the recommended units will not only help keep off those extra pounds but will also help decrease your risk of serious health problems, such as some types of cancer and liver disease.”
Don Shenker, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “The challenge faced by this country of rising obesity and alcohol health problems go hand in hand.
“Weight gain is only one of the harms caused by excessive drinking and there’s little understanding of the calorie content of alcohol.
“It’s remarkable that there’s more dietary information on a can of cola than on a bottle of wine. The government needs to urgently press ahead with mandatory labelling to ensure people know exactly what they’re drinking.”
Health Minister, Phil Hope said: “Regularly drinking more than our recommended daily limits can have a knock on effect on our health – including an expanding waistline.
“It’s not only the calories in the drinks themselves that can help to pile on the pounds, we’re also more likely to eat fatty foods when we’ve had one too many. To avoid piling on the pounds we should try to drink within the recommended limits, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.”
Large glass (250ml) of average strength red wine = 214 calories = one bag of Cheesy Wotsits.
A bottle of average strength red wine = 644 calories = 14 jaffa cakes or McDonald’s Cheeseburger and medium fries.
Large glass of medium dry white wine = 190 calories = two and a half digestive biscuits.
Bottle of medium dry white wine = 570 calories = chicken with cashew nuts and egg fried rice.
One pint of premium lager = 330 calories = one four ounce fillet steak
One pint of cider = 200 calories = one KFC chicken drumstick
Large Bailey’s (100ml) = 320 calories = one Snickers bar
One shot (25ml) of vodka or gin = 55 calories = one 25ml serving of single cream
source: Human Nutrition Research and weightlossresources.co.uk