Pour decisions: how many calories do you drink

In Ireland, you may have seen this week that minimum pricing for alcohol of at least 10c per g of alcohol has been proposed – meaning “cheap” alcohol will no longer be available for consumers. Cans of beer / cider could double in price in some cases, with a typical 12.5% wine costing a minimum of €7.50 if the bill passes. Naggins of vodka or pints sold in pubs are not being taxed however, posing the question who exactly is this bill targeting?

The proposed legislation aims to tackle excessive drinking in Ireland after a survey conducted this year showed that 4 out of 10 Irish people binge drink regularly, therefore by decreasing the availability of cheap alcohol, they propose fewer people will binge drink. Here’s the problem – people just won’t drink the wine / cans and turn to spirits or drink while they’re out instead, defeating the purpose of the bill in the first place.

Many people don’t even realise the negative effects that alcohol has both in the short and long term, where are the initiatives to spread awareness about the dangers rather than introducing another tax that people will find another way around of? Wouldn’t something as simple as putting stickers on bottles with the amount of calories and the internal damage a bottle can have be way more effective long term!

Why is alcohol dangerous?

There is no safe limit for alcohol, different people metabolise alcohol differently although the “low risk” limit has been set as 17 standard drinks per week for men & 11 for women (with at least 2-3 days alcohol free). A typical standard drink is:


The main concerns with alcohol are:

  • Dehydration – the main cause of hangovers
  • Increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease and cancers
  • Worsen mental health
  • Cause significant weight gain – not only from the calories from alcohol (9kcal/g) but because alcohol temporarily stops lipid oxidation meaning it becomes harder to burn fat and calories are easier stored. People also eat up to 30% more food when they consume alcohol!

“Binge drinking” is defined  by WHO as 6 or more drinks in one evening, which is much lower than what people perceive binge drinking as, in fact, Ireland has the second highest rate of binge drinking in the world.

So how much weight gain you gain from binge drinking twice a week for a year? In or around 15 kg of fat!!

So the take home message is by all means enjoy your glass or two of wine or beer at the weekend, but seriously consider the calories, especially if a doner kebab on your way home and Mc Donald’s for breakfast are your saviours. In terms of the new proposed bill, I highly doubt it is going to change the Irish culture and think the government are going about it in the wrong way – targeting cheap alcohol is not going to stop people (of any age) from “doing what the Irish do best”.

That’s it for this week, thanks for reading as always  🙂


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