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Will Cities Start Banning Large Beer Servings?
Research shows alcohol is giving soda a run for its money in the fight against obesity. By Melissa Romero
US adults consume as many calories from alcohol as soda on a given day, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.
Comments () | Published November 16, 2012

Guys, guard your six-pack—of beer, that is. New research shows that alcoholic beverages are as much of a calorie culprit as soft drinks, turning the fight against obesity to booze.

In a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday, researchers found that the US adult population drinks an average of 100 calories per day from alcoholic beverages.* That’s just as many calories as someone gets from drinking a soda each day.

The report included data among adults ages 20 and older from 2007 to 2010. They found that on any given day, one-third of men and 18 percent of women get their calories from alcoholic beverages. Men tend to consume about 100 more calories than women, with beer being their top drink. Wine is typically women’s drink of choice.

For an idea of how much alcohol that is, one 12-ounce can of beer is approximately 150 calories, a five-ounce glass of wine is about 120 calories, and a 1.5-ounce of liquor contains 100 calories.

As expected, younger adults consume more alcohol than older age groups. In some cases, men consume 174 calories from alcohol a day, which is more than is typically found in a can of soda. Still, on a given day, consumers of alcoholic beverages across all age groups get about 16 percent of their total caloric intake from alcoholic beverages, researchers wrote.

On the other hand, the amount of calories consumed from beer, liquor, and wine did not significantly differ by race and ethnicity. There was, however, a noticeable difference among income level. Those who live 350 percent above the poverty level get 117 calories from alcoholic beverages a day, whereas those living at or below the poverty level get about 90 calories from alcohol. Among men, no big differences by income were found in average calories consumed from alcohol.

Researchers wrote that while the health effects of consuming alcohol are well known, data regarding calorie intake from drinking has been lacking. “As with calorically sweetened beverages, alcoholic beverages are a top contributor to caloric intake but provide few nutrients,” they said.

Does this mean city governments will move to ban large alcohol servings like they have with sodas? We can’t be sure, but in the meantime we’ll keep telling ourselves that a glass of red wine at the end of every day couldn’t hurt

Download the full report at the CDC’s website

*This article has been updated from a previous version.

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  • How exactly is 100 calories 16% of the average adult diet? Almost every adult consumes more than 625 calories per day...

  • melrom

    Hi Dan—thanks for the quick math and sorry for the confusion. The population of US adults (one-third of men and 18 percent of women) who drink daily get 16 percent of their calories from alcohol. Hope that clears things up.

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