Drinking is fun. Being fat is not. Trying to lose weight is REALLY not. Sure you can cut booze out completely, but doesn’t that sound awful? Wouldn’t you rather subscribe to the brilliant theory of “Everything in moderation…including moderation”? Of course, the lack of nutritional info on alcohol has always made it hard for a chunky booze hound like myself to know exactly what constitutes caloric moderation when I’m drinking my face off. Well, that’s about to change.
For the first time ever, the Treasury Department (which for some reason is in charge of regulating beer, wine, and spirits), has approved legislation that allows for alcohol manufacturers to voluntarily list information including serving size, servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat content, all on a per serving basis. As we all know, when it comes to making healthy decisions, information is power.
Interestingly, the alcohol industry has been split on their opinion of just how much they want this information to be made available. Distillers of hard liquor are generally in favor because they can boast low calorie and carbohydrate content to a nation of carb-weary, Atkins-loving folks who want to wear smaller pants. Beer and wine makers? Let’s just say that beer bellies are not typically a part of beach bodies.
So what does this really mean? Well, because it’s still on a voluntary basis, I suppose the answer is “Not much.” It’s really just a new marketing avenue for those drinks that want to position themselves as low-calorie alternatives. Curious consumers will have access to slightly more information, but it’s unlikely that they’ll have all the data they need to make the smartest choice possible if they’re a beer or wine drinker exclusively. In fact, consumer lobbying groups have been expressing fairly rampant displeasure with the new guidelines, claiming that they still leave too much decision-making power in the hands of the booze suppliers.
Personally, I think it’s a step in the right direction. I’m a big believer that we have a genuine right to know as much as possible about anything which we consume and which may impact our health and nutritional ecosystem. Honestly, I think it’s kind of BS that beer companies don’t have to release calorie information because it means I have to spend hours Googling around on sketchy calorie-count sites to try to get some ballpark info so I know whether or not I should eat that seventh hot dog. But maybe, just maybe, this legislation is an indication that this is changing.
What do you guys think? Does it matter? Do you care? Do you own lots of pants with elastic waist bands?