People drink less wine if bars don’t sell larger serving sizes

Removing the largest serving size available for a glass of wine can reduce the amount of alcohol people drink at a bar, according to British research. In England, wine is generally served at either 125ml, 175ml or 250ml, the researchers say, so they asked 21 licensed premises to remove the largest serve from their menus, and tracked sales over the course of four weeks. They say over those four weeks the total volume of wine sold across the venues decreased by 7.6% and while the smaller wine options saw bigger sales, there was no overall increase in sales of other types of alcohol. The researchers say this means reducing the maximum amount that wine venues are selling could be an effective intervention to reduce the amount of alcohol people drink while out.

Funder: The work of this report was funded in
whole by Wellcome [PI: TMM: ref 206853/Z/17/Z
(Collaborative Award in Science: Behaviour Change
by Design: Generating and Implementing Evidence
to Improve Health for All)] The funders had no role
in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the

Media release

Removing largest serving sizes of wine decreases alcohol consumption, study finds

When pubs, bars and restaurants in England removed their largest size of wine sold by the glass, consumers drank less alcohol

Across 21 licensed premises in England, removing the largest individual serving size of wine from the menu reduced the volume of wine sold, according to a new study publishing January 18th in the open access journal PLOS Medicine by Theresa Marteau of the University of Cambridge, UK, and colleagues.

Alcohol consumption is the fifth largest contributor to premature death and disease globally. Many cues in physical and economic environments influence alcohol consumption across populations. One proposed intervention to excessive alcohol consumption is reducing the size of servings of alcoholic drinks sold by the glass, but there has been no real-world evidence for the effectiveness of this.

In the new study, researchers asked 21 licensed premises in England to remove from their menus their largest serving of wine by the glass — usually 250 mL — for four weeks. The researchers then tracked the total volume of wine, beer and cider sold by each establishment.

Over the course of the four weeks, the total volume of wine sold by the licensed premises decreased by 7.6%, and there was no overall increase in beer and cider sales. There was an increase in the sales of smaller servings of wine by the glass — generally 125 mL and 175 mL — but no impact on sales of wine by the bottle or beer or cider sales. Despite the decreased volume of wine sold, there was no change in daily revenue, likely reflecting an increased profit margin for smaller glasses of wine. Overall, the study suggests that when the largest serving of wine is not available, people shifted toward the smaller options and ultimately drank less alcohol.

“This suggests that this is a promising intervention for decreasing alcohol consumption across populations, which merits consideration as part of alcohol licensing regulations,” the authors say.

Marteau adds, “Removing the largest serving size of wine by the glass in 21 licensed premises reduced the volume of wine sold, in keeping with the wealth of research showing smaller serving sizes reduce how much we eat. This could become a novel intervention to improve population health by reducing how much we drink.”


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