The average wine drinker in England takes in around 2,000 calories (kcal) from alcohol every month.
Drinking five pints of lager a week adds up to 44,200 calories over a year, equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts.
Many drinkers add to their calorie count by having snacks, such as crisps, nuts or pork scratchings, to accompany their tipple.
A heavy drinking session is often followed by an unhealthy breakfast to help cope with a hangover, which again helps to pile on the pounds.
Going for a fry-up instead of your usual bowl of cereal can add an extra 450kcal to the calorie count from the night before.
The findings are based on an online survey of nearly 2,000 adults in England in March 2009 by YouGov for the Department of Health.
Work out how many calories are in your favourite tipple with our alcohol calorie table
Regularly drinking more than the NHS recommends can have a noticeable impact on your waistline as well as cause less obvious but more serious health problems.
Many women don’t realise that two large glasses of white wine not only puts them over the recommended daily limit for regular alcohol consumption, but also provides them with nearly 20% of their recommended daily calorie intake, at approximately 370kcal in total.
Most people would baulk at consuming a full glass of single cream, but wouldn’t think twice about the calorie content of a couple of pints. But the calorie content is similar and, over time, excess alcohol intake can easily contribute to gaining weight.
Wine, beer, cider, spirits and all our favourite drinks are made from natural starch and sugar. Fermentation, and distillation for certain drinks, is used to produce the alcohol content. This helps explain why alcohol contains lots of calories – seven calories a gram in fact, almost as many as pure fat. And, of course, additional calories can be present in added mixer drinks.
'Regularly' means drinking this amount every day or most days of the week.
To reduce the chances of gaining weight from drinking alcohol, follow these tips from the British Nutrition Foundation:
For more help on reducing your alcohol intake, read Tips on cutting down.
With a pint of bitter the same as eating a glazed ring doughnut, and an average bottle of alcopop, the same as a 50g block of medium cheddar cheese, the calories from alcohol soon add up.
|Drink||Units||Calories (kcal)||Food equivalent|
|White wine (175ml) (11% ABV)||2||130||One small bag of crisps|
|Red wine (175ml) (11% ABV)||2||120||One small slice of sponge cake|
|Lager (pint) (4% ABV)||2||170||One small sausage roll|
|Premium lager (pint) (5% ABV)||3||250||One scotch egg|
|Bitter (pint) (4% ABV)||3||190||One glazed ring doughnut|
|Cider (pint) (5% ABV)||3||200||Beans on toast|
|Cream liqueur (50ml), such as Baileys (17% ABV)||1||160||One chicken drumstick|
|Alcopop (330ml) (5% ABV)||1.5||200||A 50g block of medium cheddar cheese|
|Spirits serving (25ml), such as vodka or gin (37.5% ABV)||1||55||A 25ml serving of single cream|