Put calorie counts on alcoholic drinks, LGA says

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Media captionDo you know which of these contains the most calories?

Makers of alcoholic drinks should display the calorie count on bottles and cans, the Local Government Association says.

The LGA believes companies should be forced to warn people that drinking alcohol can contribute to weight gain.

The association, which represents nearly 400 councils, says the effect of hidden calories is contributing to an obesity crisis.

The UK currently has one of the highest obesity rates in Western Europe.

The LGA says calories from alcohol are classed as "empty calories", with no nutritional value, and by drinking alcohol, the amount of fat the body burns for energy is reduced.

It also says a pint of cider at 4.5% has 216 calories and is the equivalent to three-quarters of a burger, while a single spirit at 40% is 61 calories or an eighth of a burger.

Over 24 hours, drinking five pints of beer at 4% strength is the equivalent to eating more than three burgers. A bottle of wine - about four small 175 ml glasses - has the same calorie count as more than two burgers, the association says.

Providing 'choice'

Izzi Seccombe, of the LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, said people should be able to make informed choices about the effects of their drinking.

She added: "Most people are aware that excessive alcohol can lead to serious health problems like liver and heart damage, and an increased risk of cancer. However, the amount of calories from an average night's drinking isn't so well-known.

"The onus is on the big breweries to do more to provide clear and prominent labelling. Providing people with the right information allows them to make choices about what they eat and drink.

"Prevention is the only way we are going to tackle the obesity crisis, which is costing the NHS more than £5bn every year."

The Royal Society for Public Health has previously called for calorie labels to be put in place, giving its own warning that a large glass of wine can contain around 200 calories - the same as a doughnut.

And in 2015, MEPs backed calls for calorie labels to be put on all alcoholic drinks in a vote at the European Parliament, although that vote is not binding.

On Friday, it emerged that new advice on how much people in the UK should limit their drinking is to be issued following the first review of official alcohol guidance in 20 years.

Reports suggest the chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, will recommend abstaining from alcohol for at least two days a week.

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