OBESITY campaigners have warned that pre-mixed alcoholic drinks can contain more sugar than fizzy drinks but that labelling loopholes mean they are not required to carry nutrition details on the packaging.

An analysis of “ready to drink” pre-mixed spirits and cocktails sold in major supermarkets carried out by campaign group Action on Sugar found less than half  (41 per cent) had any form of nutrition labelling. 

Alcoholic beverages over 1.2 per cent strength are not required to carry details such as calories content and they have not been subject to a sugar tax, which has encouraged some manufacturers of soft drinks to re-formulate to cut sugar. 

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Of the 154 products, only 14 products had any sugar information on-pack. 

Drinks with the highest sugar content included a 700ml WKD Blue, containing 59g or 15 teaspoons of sugar per pack, and a 500ml TGI Fridays Passion Fruit Martini, containing 49g or 12 teaspoons of sugar per pack. 

Campaigners said this meant consumers are unable to make an informed choice about their sugar intake, with consequences for tooth decay, obesity and illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes.

Lorraine Tulloch, programme lead at Obesity Action Scotland, said: “Ready to drink alcoholic beverages may be convenient but this study shows the alarming amount of sugar the industry is adding to these products. 

“These products aren’t currently required to have a nutrition label on them and we can see very few companies have chosen to provide this information. 

“It is vital customers be afforded an informed choice when purchasing food or drinks – there is no good reason why this should be any different simply because these drinks contain alcohol. 

“The lack of available on-pack nutrition information, exposed by the survey, shows voluntary self-regulation by the alcohol industry is not good enough.”

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It comes as the Scottish Government launched a new campaign, Count 14, to raise awareness of the number of units of alcohol in typical servings of beer, wine and spirits. 

It comes as research found only 15% of beer, lager and cider drinkers were able to correctly identify that six pints equals 14 units, with 16% of wine drinkers knowing 14 units equated to six medium glasses of wine.

Almost one-quarter (24%) of those who drink spirits regularly knew seven double measures added up to the recommended maximum unit guideline. 

People who have looked to reduce their alcohol intake in January are being encouraged to Count 14 in February, and beyond.

The campaign will tour supermarkets across Scotland to raise awareness of the national unit guideline. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said: “The alcohol guidelines are based on the clear evidence that as alcohol use increases, so does the risk of a range of health harms. 

“To keep these risks low it’s recommended men and women don’t drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. 

“The 14-unit guideline equates to six pints of medium strength beer, lager or cider; six medium glasses of wine or seven double measures of spirits over the course of a week.

“By increasing understanding of what this means in terms of actual alcoholic drinks, our hope is adults in Scotland are able to make more informed choices.”

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Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “This research points towards confusion amongst adults as to how the maximum unit guideline applies to their drink of choice. 

“Statistics show that as a nation we are continuing to drink more than the lower risk guidelines, so it’s vital we continue to increase understanding of how drinking can add up, and the associated impact exceeding the guidelines on a regular basis can have on health. 

“Whilst there is no safe limit when it comes to alcohol, working out what 14 units looks like, and spreading those units over three days or more, can help lower the risk of harm.”