Australians are becoming more health conscious and opting for products that are better for their health and well-being. And Big Alcohol is also trying to capitalize on this trend by marketing their alcohol products with a health halo. Alcohol product labeling that touts “better for you” marketing is confusing Australians into opting for these alcohol products thinking they are healthier even though they are not.
Cancer Council Victoria reports that over 75% of adults who use alcohol in Australia think ‘‘low carb’’ and ‘‘no added sugar’’ labels are healthier options despite being categorized as full-strength alcohol products. No level of alcohol is healthy and therefore, these alcohol products should not be considered as healthier.
At a time when Australians are becoming more focused on their health, we should be supporting efforts to live healthier lifestyles,” said Dr. Ashleigh Haynes, David Hill Research Fellow at Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, as per The New Daily.
Instead, alcohol companies are capitalizing on this shift, using health-related marketing claims to trick consumers into thinking their alcohol products are healthy when in reality, alcohol has significant negative health impacts.”Dr. Ashleigh Haynes, David Hill Research Fellow, Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer
A recent study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that 54% of beers, ciders, and ready-to-drink (RTD) products on the website of the largest liquor retailer in Australia featured health-oriented marketing. 21% of audited wines also featured health-oriented marketing.
The most common health-related claims in these alcohol products were of being “natural” or containing fruit. In terms of the nutrition profile of these products claims on sugar and carbohydrate content were the most common.
These health claims were misleading since these alcohol products were still categorized as full-strength alcohol products and science has found that no amount of alcohol is healthy. In fact, alcohol is known to cause at least seven different types of cancer.
Furthermore, the availability of nutritional information even online was poor at just 12% for beer, cider, and RTDs. This means people in Australia cannot compare the marketing claims with objective information on the product label. Therefore, the consumer right to make informed choices about products is being obstructed.
A lesser known fact about alcohol products is that it is the largest source of energy from an unhealthy product in Australia.
Alcohol is also very high in kilojoules, which can lead to excess weight gain, overweight and obesity. For Australian alcohol users, alcohol is the largest source of energy in the diet from unhealthy products, making up 13.4% of their overall intake,” said Dr. Ashleigh Haynes, David Hill Research Fellow at Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, and lead author of the above study, as per The Obesity Policy Coalition.
Promoting that a full-strength alcohol product is better for you because it doesn’t contain added sugar, is ‘organic’ or contains ‘fruit ingredients’ is just marketing spin to distract from these serious health harms.”Dr. Ashleigh Haynes, David Hill Research Fellow, Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer
Currently, alcohol labels are under review by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). Advocates are calling for improved alcohol labeling. Specifically,
- including kilojoule energy content, and
- banning claims about sugar and carbohydrate content on alcohol product labeling.
This is a critical opportunity for us to improve the current labeling standards for alcohol to ensure consumers aren’t being misled by marketing claims,” said Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, as per their website.Jane Martin, Executive Manager, Obesity Policy Coalition
The New Daily: “Healthy alcohol marketing ‘spin’ misleads consumers“
Obesity Policy Coalition: “Call for improved alcohol labelling as new study reveals ‘better-for-you’ claims may mislead consumers“
Journal of Alcohol and Drugs: “Health-oriented marketing on alcoholic drinks: an online audit and comparison of nutrition content of Australian products“