On the eve of the Great British Beer Drinker Festival, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) released a “study” that says beer is less fattening than wine and most people don’t know it. It’s hard to even begin dissecting the idiocy, but here’s an attempt, without a source to the original “study.” There was no link or search results to the study on CAMRA’s website. The assumptions, as described by the linked summary:
- a half pint (285mL or 10 ounces) of 3.8% ABV beer has 85 calories
- 175ml (5.9 ounces) of 12% ABV wine has 131 calories
- Make this substitution every day for a week and save 322 calories (46 per day times 7 days)
- These saved calories equate to a half hour of jogging
The problem: those aren’t comparable serving sizes. Using the wine calculator, more specifically its advanced setting, 175mL of 12% wine has 131 calories if there’s 23g/L residual sugar. That’s really high for red wine — the vast majority of red varietals will have less residual sugar and less calories than that. Also, 175mL is a very full glass. By comparison, a half pint of beer isn’t really a serving. Add that 3.8% is very weak for beer — certainly not what one would expect from a “real ale.”
Doing a little more math, we see that the proposed serving of wine has over twice the alcohol as the serving of beer.
In essence, this isn’t a study of any sort. It’s just an arbitrary definition of serving size. It’s like saying a Big Mac is healthier than plain chicken breast, because there’s less calories in a Big Mac (575) than a pound and a half of chicken.
If you drink in moderation, it won’t make a whole lot of difference. Regardless, studies like this will continue to confuse people.