Two glasses of wine might add more sugar to your diet than eating a doughnut
The UK government has focused on soft drinks in recent years to reduce sugar consumption, but this approach hasn’t yet been applied to alcoholic beverages.
In 2018, the government introduced a “sugar tax” on soft drinks. This means that manufacturers will be charged up to 24p for each liter if they contain eight grams per 100 milliliters. The government introduced “sugar taxes” on soft drinks in 2018. This means that manufacturers are charged a levy of up to 24p per liter if the drink contains eight grams of sugar per 100 milliliters.
A new report by Alcohol Health Alliance UK suggests that two glasses of red wine contain enough sugar to reach the recommended daily limit – even higher than a glazed donut.
According to the report, some bottles of wine can contain up to 59 grams of sugar per bottle. The standard wine bottle holds 750 milliliters, which is the equivalent of three large glasses. In some cases, a large glass of red wine may contain less than 20 grams of sugar. This is almost twice as much sugar as a glazed doughnut. How much sugar is in alcoholic beverages?
The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been associated with an increased risk for obesity, weight gain, and other conditions, such as diabetes type 2. The majority of research on sugary drinks focused on soft drinks such as colas. Alcohol, or ethanol, to call it by its proper name, has calories.
Alcohol comes second to fats when it comes to calories per gram. Sugar is another factor that can contribute to a high-calorie count. It can be the sugars and non-fermented sugars in wine and beer or sugars that are added to drinks like cocktails and mixers for flavor. Alcohol consumption is associated with weight gain.
Sugar levels in cocktails
According to surveys, alcoholic drinks are responsible for 10% of the daily sugar intake in the UK by 29-64-year-olds and 6% of the daily sugar intake for those over 65. The difference in alcoholic drinks may explain this.
Sugar is high in cocktails. Cabeca de Marmore/Shutterstock
The recent trend of pre-made cocktail cans is likely to rank near the top, with some of them containing as much as 49 grams per serving. When compared to other more traditional cocktail recipes, they also do poorly. A summer fruit cup cocktail, for example, may contain over 25g of per serving. The sugar content of a cocktail could be even higher at home, depending on how it is made and what constitutes a serving. You can have more sugar by drinking these cocktails than you would by eating a few chocolate bars.
Sugar content in wine can vary greatly, and the lower alcohol strength wines that seem healthier may actually contain more sugar. Dry wines and red wines tend to have lower levels of sugar.
Read more: The science of sugar: why we’re hardwired to love it and what eating too much does to your brain – podcast.
For those of us who enjoy beers and ciders, these drinks can contain even more sugar per serving than wine. A pint of cider, for example, has more than 25g of sugar, with some ciders containing an eye-watering 46g of sugar per serving.
Spirits such as gin and vodka are highly distilled, so their sugar content is negligible. These drinks are the healthiest when they’re not mixed. They can be sweetened with sugar. If you don’t want sugar, drink your gin straight or on rocks.
There is more that can be done to inform people about the sugar content in alcoholic beverages. First, alcohol producers would have to accurately label their products with not only the alcohol content but also sugar content and calories so that consumers could make informed decisions. A sugar levy that targets alcoholic beverages more specifically will likely lead to manufacturers changing their recipes in order to reduce sugar.
Since 2018, the levy on non-alcoholic beverages has led to significant reductions in sugar-sweetened consumption. Since its introduction, the government has claimed that a tax placed on soft drinks led to a reduction of sugar in beverages by more than half.
More than 20% of UK residents regularly consume alcohol at levels which increase the health risks. Alcohol consumption can also pose less obvious health risks, such as sugar content. People should consider this when selecting their drink, especially if they are trying to lose weight.