The health halo effect of ‘better for you’ alcohol products on women
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Deakin University Australia
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1595
Background and Objective:
Alcohol is a significant public health problem, with the alcohol industry increasingly targeting women with a range of sophisticated marketing strategies. This has included a range of ‘better for you’ products, including low calorie/sugar and zero alcohol products. While research suggests that these products may have particular appeal for women, there has been limited systematic investigation into women’s attitudes towards, and reasons for, consuming these products, and whether women perceive that these products are appealing for women.

An online panel survey was conducted with 497 Australian women aged 18 and over who had consumed alcohol in the past year. Participants were asked about their own consumption of low calorie/low sugar or zero alcohol products and were asked questions to whether they thought these products would particularly appeal to women and the reasons for this. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data.

Women perceived low calorie/sugar and zero alcohol products as an appealing option for women who were health conscious or worried about their weight. These products were identified as having health benefits and described as tools to assist with weight loss or to “stay skinny”. Some participants recognised that zero alcohol products gave the illusion that they were healthier since they did not contain alcohol. Participants thought these would increase the number of drinks that a woman might consume in the one session because women could drink without worrying about calories or weight gain.

‘Better for you’ alcohol products were perceived as being for women who were health and weight conscious. Marketing for these products promotes an illusion of healthiness which does not consider the health impact of the alcohol itself. Controls on alcohol marketing should be expanded to limit the use of health and nutrient claims.

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