Beer belly

The beer belly is a myth, new research claims

A new report out of the UK claims there is no scientific evidence to support the assertion that beer causes weight gain and has labelled the beer belly a myth.

The report called “Beer & Calories; a scientific review” was written by nutritionist Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan and was sponsored by the beer industry. [So far it doesn’t appear to be available online. Ed]

O’Sullivan claims that because beer has fewer calories per 100ml than wine, spirits and orange juice, swapping certain beverages for beer could be a sensible way to diet. At around 250 calories per pint, lager is as fattening as a slice of pizza, while two large glasses of wine contain around 400 calories – the same amount as a beefburger.

Although she does agree that beer should still be drunk in moderation and if you consume large amounts of beer you will gain weight, the same goes for those who consume significant quantities of wine.

O’Sullivan told The Times: “Unfortunately beer has this image as a high-calorie, high-fat drink. It is very unfair. If you are a massive consumer of beer you will of course put on weight,” but, she adds: “If you are a massive consumer of wine the same would be true”.

The report concludes that swapping a standard glass of wine for a half pint of beer would save 40 calories and significant calorific savings would be made over a year by replacing two large glasses of wine a day with two bottles of lager.

It also concurs that excessive alcohol consumption does impact on life expectancy but argues that there is growing scientific evidence to suggest that moderate consumption of beer can have some health benefits.

Dr O’Sullivan notes: “Beer drinking in Britain has become regarded by many as a vice and not a component of a healthy balanced lifestyle. But this is contrary to the latest scientific evidence.

“Enjoyed in moderation, beer, like wine, can provide many essential vitamins and minerals and moderate consumption may also protect against many conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.”

This new study also is consistent with an earlier study in Denmark, where Professor Arne Astrup, who’s at the Department of Human Nutrition at The University of Copenhagen, found “that there is no concrete scientific evidence to support the idea of the ‘beer belly.’”

Related news:

Bottles of wine, beer and spirits could soon display the amount of calories they contain under new Government plans to discourage people from binge drinking.