A3. Awareness of alcohol units, Calories & other information in the Off-trade: Ambition

What this pledge sets out to achieve, and why this is important

This pledge will help raise people’s awareness and understanding of units, NHS lower-risk drinking guidelines, the calorie content of alcoholic drinks and the Chief Medical Officer’s advice on drinking during pregnancy.

This pledge commits off-trade retailers to provide unit and health information for consumers in off-trade premises.

The off-trade sells over 60 per cent of the alcohol consumed in the country. In the last 20 years the affordability of wines increased by 129 per cent and beer 153 per cent in the off-trade. In recent years more and more people have been drinking alcohol purchased from the off-trade before going out, as a way of saving money.

Improving awareness of alcohol and calorie content of drinks bought in the off-trade can help people make informed choices about when and how much they drink. It enables people to better measure their alcohol consumption and understand whether this is in line with lower-risk guidelines.

In 2009, 90 per cent of respondents to an annual ONS survey said that they had heard of alcohol units, but only 63 per cent correctly identified that one unit was equivalent to half a pint of beer and only 27 per cent correctly said that an average 125ml glass of wine contained more than one unit. Additionally, many people are unaware of the full extent of the health harms associated with alcohol misuse.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that drinkers are obtaining approximately 10 per cent of their calorie intake from alcoholic drinks, but the level of awareness of the energy content of these drinks is generally poor.

If advice on alcohol is going to be meaningful, people must be able to put it into the context of their own drinking habits. This means being able to more easily measure their intake and compare that against medical advice.

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