Page last updated at 09:10 GMT, Saturday, 12 April 2008 10:10 UK

Doctors attack 'supersize' drinks

Customers give their views of larger measures

Increasingly large pub measures are pushing customers towards unsafe levels of drinking, the Royal College of Physicians has warned.

RCP president Ian Gilmore accused the pub industry of acting irresponsibly and urged it to put its house in order.

The 125ml wine glass used to be the standard size but many pubs and bars are now using 175ml and 250ml measures.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers hit back that it was in the business of offering customers choice.

Maximise profits

Just 16% of pubs surveyed by industry magazine The Publican magazine said the 125ml glass was their normal size.

The 175ml glass was found to be the standard in three quarters of pubs, with 14% saying they use the 250ml glass - equivalent to a third of a bottle - as a standard measure.

Meanwhile, many premises are said to have increased spirit measures from 25 to 35ml and offer doubles as standard.

BBC correspondent Keith Doyle said there was even anecdotal evidence that some pub staff were under pressure to maximise profits by encouraging customers to opt for larger drinks.

Industry magazine The Publican recently advised landlords to "train and incentivise staff to upsell products such as larger measures of wine and spirits".

Jeremy Beadles, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: "Our view is that customers should be offered a choice of different wine glass sizes when they are drinking in a pub or restaurant."

Nick Bish, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

The industry also insists it merely offers what customers want and that larger sizes are better value for money.

Mark Hastings, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said the larger glasses were a result of consumer outcry during the 1980s.

"People felt short-changed in pubs because we were selling 125ml glasses," he told the BBC.

"So the pub sector moved to serving us in exactly the same way as people drink in their own homes. In other words it's what people want to buy."

If people were asking for smaller measures, he continued, "you can guarantee pubs will start producing them, because they want customers to be happy".

Safe limits

However, as fears about a binge drinking epidemic mount, the trend has triggered a backlash from senior doctors and politicians.

Professor Gilmore warned: "There is no doubt at all that many people are drinking significantly more than they realise.

"People are aware of units, they want to stay within safe limits, but they are being pushed up way over those limits by just not realising what they are drinking.

"I think the industry is being irresponsible and needs to put its house in order."

Greg Mulholland, a Liberal Democrat health spokesman, has introduced a bill in the House of Commons to amend weights and measures legislation to force all bars, pubs, clubs and licensed restaurants offer the 125ml measure.

"Quite simply it's profiteering," he said.

"It's getting people to trade up, calling a 175ml measure - which is really a large - a standard glass, and calling a 250ml a large - when in fact it is a third of a bottle of wine, nearly half a pint.

"All I'm saying really is people should have a choice. If they want a smaller measure they should get it."

Binge drinking 'damages memory'
03 Apr 08 |  Health
MP calls for smaller wine glasses
30 Jan 08 |  UK Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific