The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) plans alcohol labeling containing caloric information – but no health warnings – as part of the obesity strategy ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Obesity is a risk factor for a variety of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) making it a major risk factor for contracting COVID-19. Taking this into consideration UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered an obesity strategy. Caloric labeling for all products consumed by people including alcohol is part of this strategy.
The label, however, is not a health warning label about the harms of alcohol. Caloric information is the bare minimum information a consumer should receive before buying a product. Nevertheless, the alcohol industry has begun opposing this minimum standard policy proposal – despite the ongoing coronavirus health crisis.
The Portman Group – Big Alcohol’s lobbying front group in the UK – has said that caloric labels could “harm” alcohol producers if they are not placed in the “right context”. They have also pointed out that “many” alcohol producers have “volunteered” to include caloric information on labels by 2022. Scientific evaluations of alcohol industry self-regulation shows that voluntary commitments often fail to achieve public health goals and are regularly and systematically violated by the alcohol industry.
Meanwhile the British Beer & Pub Association has also opposed the new labeling requirements, claiming it would hinder brewers as it will affect beer sold in pubs such as draught beer.
For those who consume alcohol, about 10% of their caloric intake is through alcohol. Therefore, it is essential that there is mandatory labeling with caloric intake on all alcohol products. Surely, reducing obesity as a risk factor for many diseases inlcuding COVID-19 is a higher priority than alcohol industry profits.
Alcohol prevention organizations have backed the initiative.
When the calorie equivalent of a large glass of white wine is the same as a slice of pizza or a cocktail is the equivalent of a cheeseburger, it is clear why alcohol products should be included in the Government’s plans to tackle the obesity crisis,” said Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, as per Just Drinks.Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair, Alcohol Health Alliance UK
Other measures in the proposed UK obesity strategy include, caloric labeling on all menu items of restaurants and takeaway chains employing over 250 staff, ban of online advertising of junk food after 9:00 PM and a fitness drive to encourage walking and cycling.