Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

High Sugar Pre-mixed Spirits & Cocktails Avoid Soft Drinks Industry Levy

A new survey by the Wolfson Institute’s Action on Sugar research group shows that ‘ready to drink’ pre-mixed spirits and cocktails are extremely high in hidden sugar.

21 January 2020

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Some 250ml drinks contain as much as 9 teaspoons of sugar. As 90% of pre-mixed spirits show no on-pack nutrition information, consumers cannot know how much sugar they contain. Absurdly, the Soft Drinks Industry Levy applies to lemonade, but a vodka and lemonade is exempt. Action on Sugar is calling on the government to ensure that all alcoholic drinks are included in vital public health policies, and to tackle this huge missed opportunity.

In total, 202 ‘ready to drink’ alcoholic beverages sold in-store and online were surveyed. Of the 154 products collected in-store, nutrition information on pack was lacking: only 63 products (41%) in-store had some form of nutrition information on pack, and only 14 products (9%) had ‘sugar’ information on pack. Due to the lack of information provided on pack, Action on Sugar commissioned independent laboratory analysis of 21 products (in addition to the information available on pack and on drink manufacturer’s websites), which has exposed for the first time the alarming and unnecessary variation of sugar and calories to the public.

Sugary alcoholic drinks are contributing to obesity, type 2 diabetes, various cancers, liver damage, and tooth decay, as consumers are unknowingly drinking large amounts of sugar and calories. Action on Sugar is now urging the government to step in and take control of the food and drink industries, and the alcohol industry.