By Andrew Starke
Research by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) has found that low carbohydrate beer drinkers mistakenly believe these products are healthier and will keep the kilos off.
The results of the national survey to measure attitudes and behaviours of low carb beer drinkers found that more than two-thirds (71 percent) of those surveyed believed low carb beer is healthier than full strength beer, despite both types containing the same level of alcohol, which is high in kilojoules.
And 15 percent said they consumed more beer when drinking the low carb variety in the belief that it is healthier for them.
Other findings were:
- More than a third (38 percent) believe low carb beer is healthier than light beer.
- 13 percent of low carb beer drinkers binge drink, which is the same level as binge drinking across the broader Australian population.
- 44 percent who drink low carb beer believe is it less fattening.
VicHealth chief executive officer Todd Harper said what he called 'health myths' about low carb beer were dangerous and, in some cases, lead people to drink more in the mistaken belief these drinks are better for weight control.
“For those watching their waistlines, the truth is, low carb beers won’t help,” Harper said.
“This is because they contain almost as many kilojoules and just as much alcohol as regular beer.
“Beer doesn’t contain a lot of carbs to begin with. For example, a can of soft drink contains four times more carbohydrates than a stubby of full strength beer.
“It’s the alcohol that contributes most to weight gain from drinking beer, not the carbohydrate.”
Harper added that it was particularly concerning that one in three people thought low carb beer was healthier than light beer.
“Carbs or no carbs, alcohol can still be harmful for your health.”
Australian Drug Foundation CEO John Rogerson said education was key as consumers are confronted with greater choice.
“As the industry introduces more of these varieties to the market for summer, we need to warn Australians that low carb beer is a marketing ploy designed to mislead people into thinking they’ve made a healthy choice,” he said.
“If you’re worried about your health and your weight but still want to have a drink, choose lower alcohol beer instead.”
Low carb beers now make up almost nine percent of the total beer market.
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