Passing a ‘tipping point’ results in 6,300 extra calories - missing link between obesity and alcohol

Public health officials are being urged to do more to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and weight. The call comes after a new report (published Thursday 24 April 2014) revealed that drinking beyond a personal ‘tipping point’ leads many of us to consume 6,300 extra calories in food and alcohol over 24 hours.

The report by Slimming World, including results of a new survey conducted with YouGov, reveals that the average tipping point occurs at just 9.3 units of alcohol – equivalent to 3.7 pints of beer or 3.1 large glasses of wine.

Around half of drinkers say they have a tipping point and passing this point causes them to make unhealthy choices with food and to drink more alcohol than intended. They consume an extra 2,829 calories in food and 1,476 calories in alcohol the same day, plus another 2,051 extra calories in food the following day. As well as the additional 6,300 calories, half also cancel physical activity in favour of watching TV, staying in bed or spending time on social media.

With estimates suggesting that consuming an extra 3,500 calories is equal to gaining around 1lb in weight*, the energy imbalance caused by taking in 6,300 extra calories and burning fewer calories off through activity could be equal to a weight gain of around 2lbs per week in the 58% of people who pass their tipping point on an average weekend.

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Head of Nutrition and Research
There is currently not enough guidance for the public on how drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can impact on weight.
Dr Jacquie Lavin, Head of Nutrition and Research

Research included in the report reveals that alcohol stimulates appetite and weakens resolve, causing people to eat more without realising. Chips are the most popular food for people after passing their tipping point, with pizza, kebab, hamburger and crisps close behind.

Respondents also reported that they were more likely to have a poorer quality sleep, which has also been linked with obesity.

Slimming World is calling for more to be done in public health campaigns to raise awareness of the impact that excessive drinking has on lifestyle choices that affect weight and for calorie labels to be included on alcoholic drinks to help people make informed choices.

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World’s Head of Nutrition and Research, says: “There is currently not enough guidance for the public on how drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can impact on weight.

“Alcohol stimulates appetite, makes us want to eat more unhealthy foods and lowers our inhibitions, all of which can lead to us making unhealthy choices – without even realising how many more calories we’re consuming. When we drink beyond our tipping point we’re likely to continue to eat unhealthily the next day, cancel physical activity plans and have disrupted sleep. With the average tipping point typically occurring after only three to four drinks it’s clearly very easy for people to drink enough alcohol to experience these changes in their behaviour.

“The Government has stated its commitment to tackling both obesity and binge drinking**, but we believe more needs to be done to increase people’s awareness of the link between the two. Our research suggests that people who consume large amounts of alcohol in a single sitting are more likely than people who drink within the recommended guidelines to pass their tipping point, which could lead them to drink more, eat more and be less active.

“We believe that information on the link between drinking too much alcohol and the lifestyle choices that affect our weight should be built into all public health communications. Alcohol doesn’t only contain calories that don’t fill us up as food does, it also makes us feel hungrier and weakens our resolve to make healthy choices. Making people more aware of this will give them the information they need to take personal responsibility for their weight.

“Our research also shows a lack of awareness of the calories in alcoholic drinks, so we believe that more needs to be done to make the public aware of the fact that alcohol contains calories in itself, by putting calorie labels on alcoholic drinks.

“Slimming World members already have the benefit of a programme that has been designed to increase their awareness of how too much alcohol can impact on their weight in the same way as too many high energy dense foods. This helps them to change their behaviour and navigate towards moderate drinking. More needs to be done to make information available to the general public. Eighty-six per cent of Slimming World members believe that adding a calorie count to alcohol labels would increase the public’s awareness of the link between alcohol and weight.

“We believe that implementing our two recommendations would have a significant impact on making people more aware of how alcohol can impact on their weight and help to tackle the two major public health issues of obesity and excessive alcohol consumption.”

What’s your tipping point?

A short interactive quiz is available to help people find their personal tipping point, show how many extra calories they are consuming as a result and how much weight they could gain in a year. They can then get tips for how to manage their tipping point more effectively and, if they want to, they can share their results with friends on Facebook and Twitter. The quiz is available at www.slimmingworld.com/tippingpoint 

Key stats by gender




Average tipping point

10.5 units

8 units

% who pass this point in a typical weekend



% who pass this point at least once on a weekday in a typical week



Extra calories that night through alcohol

1,795 calories

1,119 calories

Extra calories that night through food

3,126 calories

2,535 calories

Extra calories the next day through food

2,025 calories

2,071 calories

Total extra calories


6,946 calories

5,725 calories

Notes to Editors

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) 45 years ago and there are now more than 11,500 groups held weekly nationwide via a network of more than 3,800 Slimming World Consultants who receive specific training in dietary aspects and the role of physical activity in weight control. The highly developed training focuses on facilitating behaviour change in a caring group environment, acknowledged by experts as being the most effective way to support long-term weight management. Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, and the principles behind Slimming World’s philosophy are based on a deep understanding of the challenges faced by overweight people. It integrates practical, up-to-date dietary advice with a highly developed support system based on caring and compassion. For more information visit www.slimmingworld.com or call 0844 897 8000.