Health professionals slam 'nutritional' beer ads

An alcohol industry lobby group wants to bust myths about the nutritional aspects of beer with a new advertising campaign.

But health professionals say the campaign ignores the elephant in the room - that beer causes serious harm.

The TV ad, to be launched this weekend, features Olympic rowing gold medallist Eric Murray telling a story many men can relate to - the race to see the birth of his child. 

New Zealand Brewers Association excutive director Dylan Firth says the company wants to educate Kiwis about the nutritional content of beer.

"I wouldn't say that beer's a health food and we're not trying to educate people into that, we're just trying to give them the information."

Lion and DB Breweries are behind the campaign, which is called 'Beer, the Beautiful Truth'.

But Alcohol Healthwatch says they're not telling the whole truth.

"Calling this campaign 'The Beautiful Truth' is an absolute disservice to the individuals, children and families, who continue to suffer the very many ugly truths from alcohol consumption in our country," says executive director Dr Nicki Jackson.

The ad is part of a wider campaign, which has seen both Lion and DB introduce nutritional labels over the past year, as well as a stamp touting their beer as '99 percent sugar free'.

"I challenge the alcohol industry that if sugar is the big problem, what about putting labels around cancer, around bowel cancer?" says Dr Jackson. 

"Letting the public know about the risks to breast cancer?"

She says brewers are simply trying to draw in consumers who may have stopped drinking, because of the health implications, which the Brewers Association denies.

"We're just advertising our product and its ingredients," says Mr Firth. "I don't think we're promoting drinking, it's not about that."

Alcohol Healthwatch says the real truth about alcohol is anything, but beautiful.