Beverage survey: Do you know which drinks have the most calories?

Uutinen   •   Elo 17, 2015 11:52 EEST

People often misjudge the calorie content of beverages. Soft drinks are considered to be the most calorie-rich beverages, although even orange juice has more calories than a sugared soft drink – and yoghurt drinks have much more. It is thought that beer is fattening, while wines are not, in spite of their far higher alcohol content. In fact, beer is the alcoholic drink with the lowest amount of calories.

According to a survey carried out by Taloustutkimus, in which respondents were asked about the calorie content of 12 beverages, most people believe that sugared soft drinks have the most calories.

“Sugared soft drinks have 37 kilocalories per 100 grams. This means that these drinks should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a varied diet. However, yoghurt drinks, for instance, contain far more calories,” says Outi Heikkinen from the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry.

In this survey, which was commissioned from Taloustutkimus by the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry, respondents were asked to rank 12 beverages on the basis of their calorie content. Many of the responses have little basis in the facts.

“People believed that sugar-free energy drink contains more calories than semi-skimmed or fat-free milk. The truth is that the calorie content of sugar-free energy drinks, like that of other light soft drinks, is close to zero, almost on a par with water.”

Differing information

Ordinary medium-strength beer (around 4.7% ABV) has fewer calories than people think. While ordinary beer has 43 kilocalories per 100 grams, red wine has 70 and dry white wine 69.

“People have the greatest misconceptions about beer. It’s not a calorie bomb – in fact, it contains slightly fewer calories than orange juice, while red wine has almost twice as many calories,” says Heikkinen. “For instance, non-alcoholic beer is a good accompaniment to a meal. It has only a third of the calories of fat-free milk.”

Those who are watching their weight must consider their intake. Different beverages have different serving sizes.

According to the Taloustutkimus survey, 75% of Finns think that providing information on the calorie content of alcoholic beverages is useful – and as many as 84% of women are of this opinion.

Member companies of the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry have provided calorie information on alcoholic beverage packaging since 2008. This is voluntary, as the law does not require such labelling on alcoholic beverages.

“Beverage package labels provide plenty of information for consumers. It’s worth it to read this information to make informed choices.”

Women and beer

Women drink less beer than men. Half of women and as many as 80% of men say that they drink beer.

“One reason why women don’t drink beer might be that beer is thought to be fattening. That’s why women often choose wine instead of beer. However, beer does not contain fat and has only small amounts of sugars and carbohydrates. When enjoyed in moderation, beer is not fattening,” says Heikkinen.

A balanced, diverse diet and an active lifestyle keep people in shape. People gain weight when their food intake exceeds their energy consumption, whether these calories come from fat, alcohol or carbohydrates.

Taloustutkimus carried out this survey of Finns’ purchase and consumption behaviour with respect to alcoholic beverages and soft drinks in June 2015. The study was commissioned by the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry. 1162 people responded to the survey on Taloustutkimus’ Internet panel.


This is how Finns ranked the calorie content of beverages:

1. Sugared soft drinks
2. Yoghurt drinks with added sugar
3. Juice from concentrate with added sugar
4. Medium-strength beer
5. Red wine
6. Sugar-free energy drinks
7. Orange juice
8. White wine
9. Sugar-free soft drinks
10. Fat-free milk
11. Semi-skimmed milk
12. Non-alcoholic beer

Actual calorie content:

1. Yoghurt drinks with added sugar (74 kcal)
2. Red wine (70 kcal)
3. Dry white wine (69 kcal)
4. Semi-skimmed milk (46 kcal)
5. Orange juice (45 kcal)
6. Medium-strength beer (43 kcal)
7. Sugared soft drinks (37 kcal)
8. Fat-free milk (34 kcal)
9. Juice from concentrate with added sugar (32 kcal)
10. Non-alcoholic beer (13 kcal)
11. Sugar-free energy drinks (3.3 kcal)
12. Sugar-free soft drinks (0 kcal)

Source: Fineli – Finnish Food Composition Database

Additional information:

Managing Director Elina Ussa, tel. +358 (0)45 269 7711
Communications Manager Outi Heikkinen, tel. +358 (0)50 370 8677,,
Twitter: @panimoliitto, Facebook: /panimoliitto, Instagram: @panimoliitto