A new report has demonstrated a link between alcohol and eating too much.
And a weight-loss expert from Corby is calling on people to think about how drinking affects their eating and activity habits.
The report by weight-loss organisation Slimming World has revealed that drinking past a personal ‘tipping point’ leads the average person in the East Midlands to consume nearly 5,300 extra calories.
Sonia Mathieson, who runs a Slimming World group in Church of the Epiphany, says it shows more must be done to make people aware of the effect drinking alcohol has on their diet, weight and health.
The report found that the average tipping point for people in the East Midlands is just 8.3 units of alcohol – equivalent to 2.8 large glasses of wine (250ml) or 3.3 pints of beer.
That’s slightly lower than the national average tipping point of 9.3 units.
About half of drinkers quizzed said they have a tipping point and passing this point causes them to drink and eat more than they intended.
On average in the East Midlands people consume an extra 1,376 calories in alcohol and 2,378 calories in food the same day or night, plus another 1,506 extra calories in food the following day.
The top food choices for people in the East Midlands that night were chips, an Indian takeaway or a hamburger, with a full English breakfast being the most likely indulgence the following day.
As well as the additional 5,260 calories, half also cancel physical activity in favour of watching TV, staying in bed or spending time on social media.
It’s generally estimated that consuming an extra 3,500 calories is equal to gaining around 1lb in weight, so the energy imbalance caused by taking in 5,260 extra calories and burning fewer calories off through activity could be equal to a weight gain of nearly 2lbs per week for those people in the East Midlands who pass their tipping point once on an average weekend.
Research included in the report reveals that alcohol stimulates appetite and weakens resolve, causing people to eat more without realising.
Respondents also reported that they were more likely to have poor quality sleep, which has been linked with obesity.
Sonia said: “We tend to think about alcohol in a different way to food.
“A glass of wine contains the same number of calories as a packet of crisps or a small slice of cake and a pint of bitter has the same calories as a glazed ring doughnut, but for some reason we’re less aware.
“Drinks can slip down much more easily and don’t satisfy your appetite so it’s easy to forget that they’re full of calories and, as this research shows, it’s not just the drinks you have but the food you consume after drinking too.
“Alcohol also stimulates your appetite so it makes you feel hungrier and lowers your inhibitions, all of which can lead to you making unhealthy choices without even realising how many more calories you’re consuming.
“People are bombarded with information about losing weight and not drinking too much, but they’re usually treated as separate.
“There isn’t any guidance on how drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can impact on your eating and activity choices and I think it’s something that’s desperately needed.
“I hope those people in the East Midlands who are responsible for public health will take notice of these findings and take action.”
Slimming World is calling for more to be done in public health campaigns to raise awareness of the impact that frequent excessive drinking has on weight and for calorie labels to be included on alcoholic drinks to help people make informed choices.
Leanne Parker, who has lost 4st since joining the Church of the Epiphany Slimming World group which Sonia runs, says alcohol contributed to her weight gain.
She said: “The findings of this report definitely ring true for me. You don’t have to drink a lot to put on weight – just a few drinks with friends or the odd glass in front of the TV all add up, especially when you think about the post-drinking eating you do too.
“I know before I came to Slimming World if I had a few drinks I’d usually end up grabbing something on my way home from a night out or start dipping into the biscuit tin, or putting a few rounds of toast on.”
The Corby Slimming World group meets every Thursday at 5.30pm and 7.30pm at the Church of the Epiphany. Call Sonia on 01536 508980.