Healthy alcohol marketing ‘spin’ misleads consumers

One in four Australians fail to meet drinking guidelines. Photo: AAP

One in four Australians fail to meet drinking guidelines. Photo: AAP Photo: AAP

Health-conscious Aussies may want to reconsider their next ‘‘low sugar’’ alcoholic drink as experts warn ‘‘healthy’’ booze marketing campaigns can often be misleading.

More than 75 per cent of adult drinkers believe that beverages with ‘‘low carb’’ and ‘‘no added sugar’’ labels are healthier options, however these products are still alcoholic and therefore should not be considered a ‘‘healthy’’ product, according to Cancer Council Victoria.

A recent study by the organisation found many beers, ciders, pre-mixed drinks and wines, which are touted as being ‘‘better for you’’, still tend to be classified as full strength and can be harmful to your health.

The labels don’t always contain accurate nutrition information, the research showed.

The study’s lead author Ashleigh Haynes said the alcohol industry may be trying to capitalise on the health and wellness trend.

‘‘At a time when Australians are becoming more focused on their health, we should be supporting efforts to live healthier lifestyles,’’ she said.

‘‘Instead, alcohol companies are capitalising 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 Haynes, a research fellow at the council’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, said alcohol is high in kilojoules and can lead to excess weight gain and obesity.

‘‘Alcohol is one of the leading risk factors contributing to Australia’s disease burden and its consumption is linked to many serious illnesses, including at least seven different types of cancer,’’ she said.

It is also the largest source of energy in the diet from unhealthy products, making up 13.4 per cent of Australian drinkers’ overall energy intake.

Additionally, just over 10 per cent of alcohol products provide any nutrition information.

Jane Martin, executive manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, said the lack of transparency can impact decision-making.

‘‘By not providing access to basic information like energy content, that is standardised across all products, consumers must rely solely on these health-oriented marketing claims without being able to verify them or compare products to make an informed decision,’’ she said.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is currently considering labelling of alcoholic beverages as it relates to carbohydrate and sugar claims along with energy labelling.

‘‘FSANZ is currently considering two proposals regarding labelling of alcoholic beverages,’’ a spokesperson said.

‘‘FSANZ is progressing work on both proposals in response to requests from food ministers responsible for food regulation.’’


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