WASHINGTON — The Consumer Federation of America has developed Alcohol Facts, a side-by-side comparison of the alcohol, calorie and carbohydrate content per serving of the 26 top-selling domestic and imported alcohol brands. Designed to help consumers follow the Dietary Guidelines’ advice that men limit their consumption to two drinks a day and that women restrict their consumption to one drink per day, Alcohol Facts explains what moderate drinking equates to: 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof (40 percent) distilled spirits. Public health officials warn that consuming too much alcohol contributes to dependence, obesity and a range of diseases, such as liver cirrhosis and cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract. “Right now, consumers really have no way of knowing the most basic information about alcoholic beverages,” said Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation, a consumer advocacy association. “It’s time to end the confusion so consumers can make informed and responsible purchasing and consumption decisions.” The CFA’s analysis focused on three beers and flavored malt beverages, eight spirits products (vodka, rum, whiskey, gin and tequila), and five brands of wine. Calorie and carbohydrate content varied significantly among the categories and brands. Among spirits, calories per serving ranged from 86 calories for spiced rum to 120 calories for gin. The average (not including mixers) was 98 calories per serving. For wines, calories per serving ranged from 105 calories for a merlot to 125 calories for a cabernet sauvignon. The average was 118 calories per serving. The greatest variation in calories occurred among beers and flavored malt beverages. Light beers (five brands) averaged 100 calories per serving, regular beers averaged 140 calories (five brands) per serving, and the flavored malt beverages (three brands) ranged from 190 calories per serving to 241 calories per serving. CFA has summarized its Alcohol Facts comparison chart as a wall poster, which is available as a download through the CFA website, consumerfed.org. CFA also plans to distribute copies to national and state consumer organizations, state departments of health, nutrition and public health organizations and alcohol-related organizations and agencies.
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