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Alcohol Contributes 16% of Americans' Calorie Intake

HYATTSVILLE, Md.—As restaurants add calorie counts to their menus and consumers peruse labels of their favorite snack items, there's apparently a missing part of the equation—alcohol. Americans are consuming an average of 100 calories a day from alcoholic beverages, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

In reviewing data from the 2007 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers found on a given day, 32.7 percent of men and 18 percent of women consume calories from alcoholic beverages, which averages out to 16 percent of total caloric intake on a daily basis by consumers of alcoholic beverages. The 16 percent of total calories contributed by alcohol is the same percentage as added sugars contribute to U.S. children's diets, according to NCHS.

There were some differences in different population groups:

  • Men consume an average of 150 calories from alcoholic beverages, while women average 50 calories.
  • The highest caloric intake was seen in men aged 20 to 39, who consume almost 175 calories daily on average from alcoholic beverages.
  • Average calories from alcoholic beverages were greatest among those in the highest income category: those living at or above 350 percent of the poverty level consumed 117 calories a day from alcohol, compared to 91 calories in those living at poverty level.
  • More of men's alcohol calories come from beer than other liquor types; women's were fairly equivalent across beer, wine and spirits.
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