Monday, December 10, 2012

Counting empty calories from alcohol

While New York City enacts new regulations to curb consumption of empty calories in sugary soft drinks, a new report from the CDC suggests that alcoholic beverages may pose a similar empty-calories health problem.
From the report:
Although the risks of excessive alcohol consumption in terms of injury and chronic disease are well known, less is known about the calories consumed from alcoholic beverages. As with calorically sweetened beverages, alcoholic beverages are a top contributor to caloric intake but provide few nutrients.
Analysis is based on information collected in a 24-hour dietary recall interview conducted as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2007 and 2010. NHANES sample size is approximately 10,000, and analysis of alcohol consumption focuses on respondents age 20 and older.

CDC finds that on any given day one third of men and nearly twenty percent of women consume alcoholic beverages. On average, adults in the U.S. consume an average of 100 calories* worth of alcohol per day. Men, on average, consume three times as many calories from alcoholic beverages as women do. Across both sexes, those who consume alcohol often do so in larger-than-recommended quantities:
...almost 20% of men and 6% of women consume more than 300 calories from alcoholic beverages, which is equivalent to 2 or more 12-ounce (oz) beers, more than 2½ glasses of wine (12.5 oz), or more than 4.5 oz of spirits.
The study authors note that "on a given day, consumers of alcoholic beverages obtain approximately 16% of their total caloric intake from alcoholic beverages" which is higher than the dietary recommendation that no more than 15 percent of calories come from discretionary solid fats and added sugars.

Avg. calories from alcoholic beverages per day among U.S. adults age 20+,
by sex, age, and type of alcohol (2007-10)

Source: CDC

With respect to age and sex differences, CDC finds that most alcoholic-beverage calories consumed by men are from beer. Among women, calorie consumption is evenly distributed across beer, wine, and liquor. Across both sexes, consumption is highest in the 20-39 age group and lowest among those age 60 and older.

*Note: According to CDC, one beer is approximately 150 calories, one glass of wine is approximately 120 calories, and 1.5 ounces of liquor is approximately 100 calories.

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