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10th July 2012

It’s official! Beer has fewer calories than you think – New ComRes survey

74 per cent of women overestimate calorie content of beer, 60 per cent of men

30 per cent would now consider drinking lower alcohol beer on a hot summer’s day

55 per cent of respondents don’t know the number of calories in typical drinks

Most Brits overestimate the number of calories in beer, with women more likely to do so than men, according to new research by ComRes on behalf of the British Beer & Pub Association.

The survey found that one in five people (19 per cent) correctly estimated the calorie content of beer – fewer than for wine, where a quarter (25 per cent) get it right.  However when questioned, women are significantly more likely to overestimate the calorie content of drinks (wine, beer, orange juice).

The gap in understanding between the sexes is then most noticeable when it comes to beer, with a surprising 74 per cent of women overestimating its calorie content compared with 60 per cent of men.

There is good news for the prospects of the beer category however, as the research also indicates that women appear to be more receptive than men to the idea of drinking beer at 2.8 per cent ABV – a new, lower strength beer option which has been steadily growing in popularity – in order to cut down on their unit consumption and reduce calorie intake.  Many beer drinkers (30 per cent) also say that they would now consider lower alcohol beer as an ideal drink for a hot summer’s day.

The results of the survey also show that perceptions vary across the country. Those from Scotland (79 per cent) and the South East (73 per cent) are significantly more likely to overestimate the calorie content of beer than those in North of England (60 per cent).  In fact, those from the North are more likely to know the calorie content of beer, with more than a quarter (28 per cent) getting the figure right.

The survey found that around half (53-5 per cent) of respondents did not know the number of calories in a range of popular drinks.  In fact you may be surprised to learn that beer is less calorific than wine:

  • A half pint (284ml) of 2.8% ABV bitter (80 calories)
  • A half pint (284ml) of 4% ABV lager (96 calories)
  • A 175ml glass of 12.5% red wine (119 calories)
  • A 175ml glass of 12.5% white wine (131 calories)

Following campaigns to educate adults on alcohol units and drinking responsibly, it would appear that as a nation we are now able to make more informed choices. Thirty-one per cent of beer drinkers say that they would now consider drinking lower alcohol beer when cutting down on alcohol units.

While beer already has the lowest alcohol content of any alcoholic drink category, lower strength beers are now becoming easier to find in pubs and on supermarket shelves.  They include many new beers at 2.8 per cent ABV and a diverse range of non-alcoholic beers. But the good news doesn’t end there. As well as having lower calories, beer contains absolutely no fat or cholesterol, and is low in carbohydrates. If some women avoid beer due to a misconception that it’s a ‘high calorie’ option, then it’s certainly time for a rethink.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association comments: “If you’re trying to cut down on calories and keep track of units during the UK’s Summer of Celebration, beer in moderation, particularly lower strength beer, is a great option.”

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For additional press information please call Jo Gulliver or Caroline Beswick at Trinity PR on tel: 020 8 786 3860 / 0770 948 7960.


1.            Methodology notes: ComRes surveyed 2,046 GB adults online between 18th and 20th May 2012.

2.            Methodology note: ComRes surveyed 2,003 GB adults online between 20th and 22nd January 2012.  Data are weighted to be demographically representative of the population. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables can be found at



Neil Williams

Communications Manager

British Beer & Pub Association

020 7627 9156

07974 249 779