Low carb beer might not be as healthy as you think

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For those who are torn between getting a six pack of beer and a six pack of abs, you’ll be interested in the latest research from Cancer Council Victoria that claims low-carb beer isn’t as healthy as we were lead to believe.

The new data, a result of a campaign by public health program LiveLighter, shows that many low-carb beers contain similar levels of kilojoules than so called ‘full-carb beers’, with some low-carb beers even containing more carbs than some full-carb beers.

“It’s not surprising people are confused about the health effects of beer,” said LiveLighter Campaign Manager and Dietician, Alison McAleese. “Marketing certain beers as low-carb is doing nothing more than giving these beers a false healthy halo.”

Data from the survey shows that many Australians, including 35% of men and 22% of women, saw low-carb beer as a healthy alternative to regular beer.

“The idea that low-carb beer is good for you is a myth,” said Ms McAleese. “Most beers are already low in carbohydrates, and it’s actually the alcohol, not carbs, making beer so high in kilojoules.”

Kilojoules, the measure of energy values within foods, give consumers an overview of the calories found within certain foods and drinks.

“Around 80% of the kilojoules in a typical beer come from the alcohol itself, while only around 15% come from carbohydrates, and less than 1% from sugar,” said Ms McAleese. “At the end of the day, it’s the alcohol, not the carbohydrates, that does the damage to your waistline and puts you at greater risks of serious healthy problems, including cancer.

“To avoid weight gain and reduce these risks, choose lower alcohol beer and cut back.”

What does this mean for beer lovers?

While it might be disappointing to find out that low-carb beer isn’t helping you get shredded for the summer, health officials believe better nutrition labelling will help Australians make better decisions when it comes to their food and drink.

“We know when people get the information about what’s in their food, and this case in their drink, they do make healthier choices, and at the moment that information just isn’t available,” said Ms McAleese.

“We’d like kilojoules to be labelled on bottles and cans of alcohol so people can make informed decisions about how much energy is in the beers they’re buying.”

This isn’t the first time that low-carb beers have been called out, with a 2009 study by Cancer Council Victoria finding that many consumers were falling for the health claims made by the packaging.

With recent data showing that not much has changed since then, LiveLighter and Cancer Council Victoria have called on the Federal Government to make nutrition labelling mandatory on all alcohol products.

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