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Alcohol and Soft Drinks: No More Supersizing?

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Alcohol and Soft Drinks: No More Supersizing?

OK. I’ll admit it. I enjoy a sip (or more) of Jameson most nights during happy hour. And the more calls I receive from telemarketers and related douchebags, the higher and more often I fill the glass. Fortunately, I rarely have any soft drinks, except an occasional Diet Coke. Otherwise, I expect I would be on the shit list of some politician intent on curing obesity by eliminating supersizing.

You’ll recall that NYC Mike Bloomberg earlier this year led a successful effort to ban the sale of large-sized soft drinks and other sugary drinks in Gotham City.

Is alcohol in the on deck circle?

Here’s from The Huffington Post: “Calories From Alcohol Nearly Equal Those Americans Consume From Soda: Study“:

Americans get too many calories from soda. But what about alcohol? It turns out adults get almost as many empty calories from booze as from soft drinks, a government study found.

Soda and other sweetened drinks – the focus of obesity-fighting public health campaigns – are the source of about 6 percent of the calories adults consume, on average. Alcoholic beverages account for about 5 percent, the new study found.

“We’ve been focusing on sugar-sweetened beverages. This is something new,” said Cynthia Ogden, one of the study’s authors. She’s an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which released its findings Thursday.

The government researchers say the findings deserve attention because, like soda, alcohol contains few nutrients but plenty of calories.

But a liquor trade association said the findings indicate there’s no big problem.

“This research shows that the overwhelming majority of adults drink moderately,” Lisa Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Distilled Spirits Council, said in a statement.

“…majority of adults drink moderately.”

I expect that’s true. Yet saying that, you can’t dismiss the link between alcohol, calories and most likely weight gain — among numerous other problems, if you take drinking to excess or if you are physically and emotionally dependent on alcohol.

Here’s from USA Today:

If you belly up to the bar too often, you may pack on extra calories that wind up on your belly.

About 25% of people drink alcoholic beverages on a given day, and the drinks account for about 16% of their daily calorie intake, a new government study shows.

In fact, the research shows that on a given day 19% of men and 6% of women down more than 300 calories a day from alcoholic drinks. That’s equal to more than 2½ five-ounce glasses of wine, two or more 12-ounce beers, or more than 4.5 ounces of liquor such as vodka, scotch, rum, gin.

“A lot of people don’t think about the calories in the alcoholic beverages — it’s not a diet soda,” says Samara Joy Nielsen, a nutritional epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the research.

Alcoholic beverages are one of the top contributors to caloric intake but provide few nutrients, Nielsen says. “A 12-ounce can of beer is 150 calories, about the same as a 12-ounce can of regular soda.”

Overall, about 5% of calories for the total adult population comes from alcoholic beverages compared with 6% of calories from sugar-sweetened beverages, Nielsen says.

Again, I recognize that alcohol causes plenty of health and other problems for many people and families. And I also recognize that obesity is a major health issue, for adults and children in this country.

Still, I question whether government-mandated bans on the supersizing of food and drinks will change behavior in a way that makes any significant difference.

That, of course, doesn’t mean I can’t do something positive about limiting calorie consumption on my own.




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