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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 October, 2003, 23:28 GMT 00:28 UK
Why the beer belly may be a myth
The beer belly is a myth, say scientists
There is no such thing as a "beer belly", according to scientists.

Researchers in Britain and the Czech Republic surveyed almost 2,000 Czechs, who are generally regarded as the world's biggest beer drinkers.

They found no link between the amount of beer they drink and the size of their stomachs.

Writing in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they said claims people are obese because they drink too much beer are wrong.

Beer drinkers

Dr Martin Bobak from University College London and colleagues at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague questioned 891 Czech men and 1,098 women between the ages of 25 and 64 as part of their study.

The Czechs traditionally top world league tables on beer drinking, consuming more beer per person than people in any other country.

All of those questioned as part of the study were selected at random and drank either no alcohol at all or only beer.

The association between beer and obesity if it exists is probably weak
The survey showed the men consumed on average 3.1 litres of beer each week with women drinking on average 0.3 litres per week.

There were few heavy drinkers. Just 3% of men drank more than 14 litres of beer in a week and just five women regularly consumed more than 7 litres in a week.

All of those questioned also underwent a short medical examination.

Doctors measured their weight and their waist to hip ratio and body mass index, both used to measure obesity.

The scientists found no link between beer consumption and obesity.

They said the findings suggested there is no truth in the claim that drinking too much beer makes people obese.

"There is a common notion that beer drinkers are, on average, more 'obese' than either non-drinkers or drinkers of wine or spirits," the researchers said.

"This is reflected, for example, by the expression 'beer belly'.

"If this is so, then beer intake should be associated with some general measure of obesity, such as body mass index or with indices of fat distribution such as waist to hip ratio or with both."

But they said: "The association between beer and obesity if it exists is probably weak."

A study published earlier this year suggested some people are genetically predisposed to develop beer bellies.

Italian researchers said men with a certain gene variation have a tendency to get a flabby stomach.

Nigel Denby, of the British Dietetic Association, urged beer lovers not to seize on the study's findings to run down to their local pub.

"People shouldn't assume that they can now drink freely," he told BBC News Online. "Any food taken in excess can lead to obesity.

"Drinking any type of alcohol can also lead to obesity.

"People who want to drink should enjoy alcohol but they should only drink in moderation."

'Fat gene' discovery
18 Apr 03  |  Health
Beer belly 'gene' found
08 Jan 03  |  Health


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