Health & Wellness

Do You Know How Many Calories You Drink?

The average Canadian drinker gets about 10% of all his or her calories from alcohol

Photo: iStock/Peter-Braakmann.

 

If you’re having a hard time losing weight, you should probably consider how much you drink. According to a new study published recently in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, the average Canadian drinker gets 11 per cent of his or her daily calories from alcohol. That’s about 250 calories a day. For men, daily caloric intake from beer averaged 13%, while for women, it averaged 8%.

“That’s like eating an extra bag of chips every day,” explained lead author Adam Sherk, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, explained in a statement.

For binge drinkers, those who consume four to five drinks each time they drink, the ramifications are more serious.

“It’s actually closer to 550 calories, which is about 25% of the recommended daily caloric intake,” Sherk said. “That’s the equivalent of a double cheeseburger with all the fixings.”

Studying Canadians’ habits using Statistics Canada and other survey data, researchers found that nearly 53% of all calories consumed through drinking came from beer. Wine and spirits followed at nearly 21% and 20%, respectively.

Researchers worry that Canadians are unaware of the extra calories they’re adding to their diet. They’re calling on Health Canada to add nutritional labels to alcoholic beverages. “Labels could also be used to communicate information about alcohol’s other health risks, including cancer, stroke and heart disease, or details about Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines,” Sherk said.

The World Health Organization regional office for Europe put out such a recommendation in 2017.

The federal government estimates that anywhere between four to five million Canadians engage in “high risk drinking,” drinking that puts them at risk of driving accidents, strained family relationships, violence or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

In a statement to Huffington Post Canada, a spokesperson for Health Canada said the government body has cautioned against labelling alcohol, in part, because of concerns that Canadians might read nutritional labels and assume that there are nutritional benefits to gain be gained from drinking.