Health Halo or Genuine Product Development: Are Better-for-You Alcohol Products Actually Healthier?
Alcoholic products marketed as better-for-you is an emerging trend in Australia that has received limited research attention to date. This study aimed to examine the nutrient profiles of alcoholic products marketed as better-for-you that are available in the Australian market.
The researchers extracted the details of alcoholic product announcements published on the Drinks Trade website in 2019 and 2020 containing at least one keyword used to promote better-for-you products. The alcohol, energy, carbohydrate and sugar content of each product was recorded and assessed against existing classifications for alcohol strength and sugar and carbohydrate content.
This study identified 144 products promoted as better-for-you. The majority of products (85%, n = 122) were classified as full-strength, and the median alcohol content across each alcohol product category was classified as full-strength. Most of the energy content came from alcohol, with 62% of products deriving at least 75% of their energy content from alcohol.
Alcoholic products marketed as better-for-you appear to rely on an illusion of healthfulness, without addressing the ingredient of most concern to health, the alcohol content.
Controls on alcohol marketing should be expanded to limit the use of health and nutrient claims. Mandatory labelling of alcoholic products with nutrition information would support consumers to be better informed about the contents of alcoholic products.