The Courier-Mail

IT’S ALE GOOD New labels reveal the myth of the beer belly

- RICHARD NOONE

BEER has long been blamed for beer guts but a new labelling initiative reveals it is not the waistline villain it’s made out to be.

While there is no argument alcohol can wreak havoc on health – and good judgment – beer is practicall­y good for us when compared with the kilojoules, carbohydra­tes, sugar and salt in most sodas and sports drinks.

In an Australian first, brewing giant Lion will from today voluntaril­y begin adding nutritiona­l panels to its products, starting with XXXX, Tooheys, Hahn and James Squire. The newly labelled XXXX Gold bottles began rolling off the assembly line last night (right).

Lion beer marketing director Matt Tapper said: “Most people think beer is full of sugar and preservati­ves, when in actual fact our beers are preservati­ve-free and most are on average 99.9 per cent sugar-free.”

Dietitian Catherine Saxelby, one of a panel of independen­t experts who ratified Lion’s nutrition results, said she was surprised how “pretty benign” beer actually was. She said low-carb beer marketing had “reinforced this myth that beer is fattening”. In fact, she said, beer was more likely the food choices people made when drinking – such as that 3am kebab, burger or pizza to ““soak soak up the alcohol” – rather than drinking beer itself that was leading to expanding waistlines.

Unlike packaged foods and non-alcoholic drinks, the alcohol industry has been exempt from mandatory ingredient and nutrition panels. Lion’s decision to add the panels to its products is expected to prompt other big breweries to follow suit.

Ms Saxelby said it would “shake up the alcohol market”.

“It will have a flow-on effect to all the alcohol beverages … this time next year I would expect most of them to carry nutrition labels,” she said.

Wooloongab­ba’s Emma Sheahan, 22, a social beer drinker, said displaying nutritiona­l content would stop consumers from ignoring the calories they drink.

Engineerin­g student Genevieve Ash, 21, said beer “comes with the territory” in her degree and while she was aware of its carb content she welcomed the chance to be better informed.

“It’s always handy to know what you’re putting in your body,” Ms Ash said.

 ?? Picture: Annette Dew ?? CHEERS TO THAT: Emma Sheahan, 22, and Genevieve Ash, 21, have beers at Brisbane’s Pig and Whistle.
Picture: Annette Dew CHEERS TO THAT: Emma Sheahan, 22, and Genevieve Ash, 21, have beers at Brisbane’s Pig and Whistle.
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