Firms selling low-calorie drinks think it’s “absolutely bonkers” that bottled water has to have a nutritional value table but that the boozy beverages we buy do not.
Low-calorie food and drinks have become staples in shops and restaurants but are yet to make a major impact on the alcoholic drinks market.
Tom Bell, Founder of DrinkWell, explained to the Daily Star that growth in the low-calorie drink market and the mandatory introduction of nutritional information could help combat national levels of obesity.
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“At the moment, we've got an absolute pandemic of obesity within our society, crippling the NHS, crippling national care systems outside of the frontline NHS, that's all because of overconsumption of calories,” he said.
“A huge proportion of those calories, up to 75,000 calories a year, currently comes from the consumption of alcohol for the average consumer.”
Tom continued: “So if consumers can do something about that or at least understand how many calories they have, they're likely to consume less or find alternatives that have fewer calories in them.”
Tom’s logic then, seems to imply that a greater understanding of the number of calories in our drinks of choice may lead to more and more people opting to go for lower-calorie, full-strength options in order to keep the weekends fun and the weight off.
A recent YouGov survey showed that more than half the population thought that alcohol's nutritional information should be shown on packaging.
But despite this Tom pointed out the low-calorie drink market in the UK is “light years behind the US, light years behind Australia,” but is that for a reason?
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Is the UK ready for the arrival of the light drink market on a grand scale?
Among London’s trendy young folk, it seems that minds are open, provided taste and price point are up to scratch.
“If they could match the taste of full cal drinks moving forward – or at least come close to that sensation – I’d be interested in pursuing these brands as part of my weekly indulgences,” explained Ferdy, 26.
“In general though, I do factor calories in a fair amount, although I’m more concerned about hangover and next day productivity and happiness.”
Matt, 28, agreed, noting: “If they taste the same and aren’t too expensive I’d probably also choose a lower calorie option”.
Keiran, 26, was also open to it but didn’t think low-calorie drinks were quite there yet.
“If the flavour was there then there's no downside but I think the calorie-to-flavour ratio is well off at present,” he explained.
“White Claw tastes rank but skinny wine I’m there! [My] metabolism isn’t the same as it was in my youth,” added Darce, 26.
Pippa, of the same age, agreed admitting that what she’d tried so far from the market didn't "taste that nice,” but noted there was more out there that she was yet to have a gulp on.
But away from the oat-milk swigging, tote bag-wielding millennials and Gen-Z crowds floating around the capital, the opinions of the old guard in its boozers are a little different.
At the Derby, in Kennington, South London, Peter, 80, was sipping on a full-fat Amstel as he mounted his staunch resistance to the low-calorie wave.
“You never know what’s in ‘em,” he began.
“I’m a creature of habit… I’ve been drinking all my life.
“I’ve had pancreatitis, everything. I’ve been told by consultants not to drink anymore but I don’t listen to them ‘cos as soon as I go out of their surgery they open the bottom drawer and out comes a bottle of whiskey. They’re hypocrites, aren’t they? I’m sorry but that’s how I think.
“I just cut down, I wouldn’t touch low-calorie beer.”
But even the fiercely opposed Peter admitted that for society: “[Low-calorie drinks] are a good idea if it works!”
Standing at the bar, Michael took a similar position. Asked if he’d prefer it if the Guinness he was drinking had half the calories, he said he wasn’t interested.
Looking at his cold stout he said adoringly: “That’s the way it was made, the way it was brewed. It’s something we’ve been lucky to have, it’s the way it should be.
He said he wasn’t worried about calories: “It’s your liver, that’s the important part, not calories.
“We all drink for different reasons… and if it’s all about watching your weight just don’t drink beer.”
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