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Labour backs report linking obesity to alcohol

Slimming World | Slimming World

3 min read Partner content

The shadow public health minister has said more needs to be done to raise awareness of the link between obesity and alcohol consumption.

A YouGov survey conducted by Slimming Worldof 2,042 members of the UK population found that 47% of alcohol consumers drink all of their alcohol across one or two days, rather than spreading it evenly through the week - suggesting a ‘binge drinking’ culture.

The average ‘tipping point’ – at which people go on to make unhealthy choices with food and alcohol – is 9.3 units of alcohol.

This is equivalent to only 3.7 pints of beer or 3.1 large glasses of wine which is very easy to exceed. Fifty one per cent of alcohol consumers acknowledge a tipping point with alcohol.

The average additional energy intake after a person has passed their tipping point is an estimated 4,305 additional calories that same evening in alcohol and food – more than twice the recommended daily calorie guideline for an adult woman.

Luciana Berger, who is the Labour spokesperson on public health, said:

“The findings of this survey show that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the ways that excessive alcohol consumption can impact on weight.

“It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that people are given the information they need to make healthy choices. Yet their weak, voluntary Responsibility Deal puts the interests of big business before the nation’s health.

“With health problems associated with being overweight or obese costing the NHS more than £5billion every year, it is time the Government took the bold action that the scale of this threat to our public health demands.

Slimming World is calling on the government to change public health campaigns on alcohol, which only make a small mention of how the calories contained in alcohol can impact on weight and no mention at all of how drinking too much alcohol can impact on weight-affecting lifestyle behaviours such as food consumption, activity levels and sleep quality.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, expert medical adviser to alcohol education charity Drinkaware said:

“We know that for many people, including those looking to lose weight and make healthier lifestyle choices, there can be a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to the calories in alcohol. That’s why it’s so important for people to be aware of how many units and calories are in their drinks and the impact alcohol could have on their health.

“Many people may be surprised to know that in addition to containing seven calories per gram of pure alcohol, drinking can also negatively affect your metabolism. The body burns calories at a slower rate if alcohol is still in your system compared to when no alcohol is present. This is because it prioritises the breakdown of alcohol over the absorption and release of essential nutrients, so a heavy drinking session will slow down the amount of calories you’re able to burn off at the gym the next day.

“To avoid piling on the pounds and putting your health at risk, it’s best to drink within the lower-risk guidelines of 2-3 units a day for women, that’s a 175ml glass of 13% wine, or 3-4 units a day for men, a pint and a half of 4% beer. It also means you won't have to work as hard to burn off the calories in alcohol.”

The Department of Health said local authorities are being given a £5.4bn over two years (2014/16) to help tackle public health issues such as obesity.

"We are serious about tackling obesity and alcohol misuse and are already making progress,” a departmental spokesman said.

“The Change4Life campaign offers advice to families on how to improve their diet and lifestyle, including advice on alcohol consumption. We are working in partnership across the food and drinks industry to empower consumers to make healthier choices.”

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