Removing large wine option from pubs 'could be beneficial'

People could be "nudged" into drinking less if pubs remove their biggest serving of wine from the menu, a study suggests.

Researchers say that taking away the option of a 250ml glass of wine appears to cause drinkers to opt for smaller portions without drinking the equivalent amount of wine.

Experts at the University of Cambridge believe this could have a positive effect on health - and their findings suggest business would not suffer as a result either.

First author Dr Eleni Mantzari said: "People tend to consume a specific number of units - in this case glasses - regardless of portion size.

"So, someone might decide at the outset they'll limit themselves to a couple of glasses of wine, and with less alcohol in each glass they drink less overall."

The research, published in Plos Medicine, found removing large wine glasses led to a drop in wine sales at pubs and bars of a little less than 8% on average.

Researchers suggest venues do not lose out on money, possibly because of the higher profit margins in selling smaller serving sizes of wine.

"Although the reduction in the amount of wine sold at each premises was relatively small, even a small reduction could make a meaningful contribution to population health," said senior author Professor Dame Theresa Marteau.

"It's worth remembering that no level of alcohol consumption is considered safe for health, with even light consumption contributing to the development of many cancers."

Excessive drinking is the fifth biggest contributor to premature death and disease worldwide, figures show.

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According to the World Health Organisation, the harmful use of alcohol led to about three million deaths in 2016 across the world.

But public support for such a policy would also depend on its effectiveness and how clearly this was communicated, researchers said.

According to the experts, even though the move could be acceptable to pub or bar managers - as there was no evidence it can result in a loss in revenue - the alcohol industry may resist the move.

Matt Lambert, chief executive of the Portman Group, which regulates alcohol marketing in the UK, said the group was "vocally supportive" of "measures to increase moderation among drinkers".

But there "should be more efforts to increase consumer choice in this area" rather than restrict it - for instance "the wider availability of 125ml glasses of wine and of lower strength alternatives".

In the study, managers at four of the 21 premises reported complaints from customers.