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A Healthy Curiosity: Is your cocktail making you fat?

November 10th 2014 / Peta Bee

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We count calories in our food, but what about when we're down the pub? Peta Bee looks at the food equivalents of our favourite tipples

You religiously tot up the calories in the food you eat, but still find you can’t shift the pounds? It could be down not to what you are eating, but drinking. Surveys by drinks charities and the Royal Society of Health (RSPH) have shown that up to 75 per cent of Britons are unaware how many calories are contained in their favourite tipple, and that calorie overload through alcohol is occurring at an alarming rate.

As a result, pressure is mounting on drinks companies to provide more information on labels - including the amount of calories alcoholic beverages contain. The RSPH is among those calling on the EU health commissioner to introduce stricter guidleines on what consumers must be told about the energy content of drinks. “There is a clear appetite for this information,” says Shirley Cramer, chief executive of RSPH. “It could make a major difference to the waistlines of the nation.”

Guidelines in the UK recommend men drink no more than four units a day and women no more than three, with two alcohol-free days per week. Exceeding these limits can not only raise the risk of heart disease, strokes and diabetes, it can also lead to weight gain in the places you least want it - around the waistline and on the hips. Katherine Brown, Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies says weight gain is one of the most instant effects of regular high alcohol consumption: a large glass of wine (250ml) can add 228 calories to your evening meal, the equivalent of a Cornetto ice cream or two fish fingers.

A standard glass of red or white wine (175ml) could also contain up to 160 calories, which is similar to a slice of Madeira cake. Even sticking to the recommended 2-3 units a day could see you consume up to 6,000 calories per month, representing a weight gain of almost two pounds. In 12 months that equates to a stone and a half of added bulk.

Indeed, it’s hardly surprising that Carol Vorderman recently claimed to have shed weight after ditching booze for a year. Brown says a lot of women simply don’t realise that, by sharing a bottle of wine in the evening, they are consuming the calorie equivalent of an indulgent portion of cheesecake. “Women often see alcohol calories differently to those in food," she says. “They are not; they are one and the same.”

So how would it affect you? Here we look at the hidden calories in popular alcoholic drinks and find out the cost:

ALCOHOLIC GINGER BEER

Calories: 254 per bottle

Equivalent to: Glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut

GUINNESS

Calories: 210 per pint

Equivalent to: Plain toasted bagel

BEER

Calories: 182 per pint

Equivalent to: Krispy Kreme doughnut

CHAMPAGNE

Calories: 91 per glass

Equivalent to: 2 rich tea biscuits

RED WINE

Calories: 85 per glass

Equivalent to: One milk chocolate digestive

WHITE WINE

Calories: 92 per glass

Equivalent to: Crumpet and butter

ROSE WINE

Calories: 89 per glass

Equivalent to: Small packet fruit gums

GIN AND TONIC

Calories: 213 per glass

Equivalent to: Choc Ice

PIMMS AND LEMONADE

Calories: 85 calories per glass

Equivalent to: 4 sherbert lemon sweets

SEX ON THE BEACH

Calories: 150 per glass

Equivalent to: Packet bacon and cheddar crisps

BLOODY MARY

Calories: 140 per glass

Equivalent to: 25g honey roast cashews

MAI TAI

Calories: 125 per glass

Equivalent to: 25g mixed nuts and raisins

BELLINI

Calories: 158 per glass

Equivalent to: small plain croissant

LONG ISLAND ICED TEA

Calories: 270 per glass

Equivalent to: Serving apple crumble and custard

WHITE WINE SPRITZER (WITH SODA)

Calories: 132 per glass

Equivalent to: Bowl leek and potato soup

SHERRY

Calories: 139 per glass

Equivalent to: Small slice plain cheesecake

VODKA

Calories: 72 per shot

Equivalent to: 2 Jaffa Cakes

MOJITO

Calories: 111 per glass

Equivalent to: 25g chocolate raisins

MARTINI

Calories: 99 per glass

Equivalent to: Breakaway biscuit

COSMOPOLITAN

Calories: 99 per glass

Equivalent to: Slice toast and butter

BACARDI AND DIET COKE

Calories: 52 per glass

Equivalent to: A banana

BAILEYS IRISH CREAM

Calories: 130 per single serving

Equivalent to: 25g plain popcorn

PINA COLADA

Calories: 280 per glass

Equivalent to: A Scotch egg

BLACK RUSSIAN

Calories: 125 per glass

Equivalent to: Slice treacle tart

ZOMBIE

Calories: 325 per glass

Equivalent to: chocolate covered flapjack

MARGARITA

Calories: 145 per glass

Equivalent to: 2 scoops vanilla ice cream

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