The next time you order a drink at a pub, be careful about the amount you guzzle, for a new study has revealed that ordered drinks may be larger and have greater alcohol content than you may think.
Researchers from Northern California visited 80 establishments in 21 towns in 10 different counties and found that the alcohol content in ordered drinks tends to be larger than the standard drink.
"There are a number of factors that influence the alcohol content of drinks," said William C. Kerr, lead researcher and senior scientist with the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute.
"These include glass size; percent alcohol by volume (%ABV) of the beer, wine or spirit, for example a 15-percent wine versus an 11-percent wine, or a six-percent beer compared to a 4.2-percent light beer; accidental pour variability; and probably most important, the intentions of management and the bartender," he added.
During the study, Kerr and his colleagues purchased and measured a total of 480 drinks, comprising of beer, wine and spirits.
Out of which, 337 drink samples were analyzed within 36 hours of the visit. Either the brand name or analysis of the drink itself was used to determine its alcohol concentration and came across three key findings.
"First, the typical wine, beer or mixed spirits drink in bars is larger than a standard drink, often by 50 percent or more," he said.
"Second, within these beverage types, the alcohol content can vary widely. hird, particular beverage types and drink types vary in average alcohol content and variability."
An average glass of wine was 43 percent larger than a standard drink, with no difference found between red and white.
The average draft beer was 22 percent larger than the standard. While bottled beer (not measured in this study) and shots of spirits were equal to one standard drink, drinks mixed with spirits were 42 percent larger than the standard.
"The types of wines served in these establishments tended to be higher in %ABV (alcohol by volume), averaging 14 percent instead of the 12-percent ABV quoted in the standard drink definition. The average pour was also over six ounces," said Kerr.
It is the combination of higher alcohol-content drinks and the lack of awareness and disclosure that make this "abundance" problematic, said Kerr.
It is very difficult for individuals to judge the number of ounces in a wine glass or the %ABV of their wine beer or spirits drinks. If both volume and %ABV are each about 25 percent higher than expected, for example, and the consumer has three or four of these drinks, then their intake will be much higher than planned and this could have significant and possibly damaging consequences," he added.
The study will be published in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and are currently available at OnlineEarly.