The beer belly myth is getting the boot thanks to a food science professor who says the science doesn’t add up. Typical wisdom for many holds that drinking beer regularly, rather than wine or liquor, leads to a protruding midsection. But medical science disagrees.
“There’s nothing magical about the alcohol in beer, it’s just alcohol,” says Professor Charles Bamforth, from the University of California Davis where he studies and teaches food technology and science.
“The beer belly is a complete myth.”
The misinformation may come from an intuitive sense that the more of something that is consumed, the higher caloric intake; since the typical beer bottle is 12 ounces and an average glass of wine is only five ounces, this train of thought is not without reason.
However, the fact is that almost all of the calories in those drinks come from the alcohol alone. The difference, if any, comes as a result of more beer being consumed versus wine consumed.
Because wine tends to have a higher alcohol content than beer, less of it needs to be consumed for the same effect.
Though it is unclear why there may seem to be a trend of beer drinkers who tend to have large bellies, Bamforth believes it might be a lifestyle factor. Those who drink beer regularly, he says, often tend to also enjoy high-fat meats in the form of a hamburger or sausage.
Excessive, long term drinking of any type of alcohol, however, can lead to a real beer belly, if the liver is damaged. Explains Professor Bamforth:
“You have this kind of potential space in your belly, and when fluid accumulates in there it causes Ascites. It’s not fat, it’s actually fluid…one reason it tends to happen is from liver disease.”
Now that the beer belly myth can be put to rest, do “light” beers really seem necessary?
[Image via ShutterStock]