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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 November, 2004, 01:40 GMT
Drink binges 'cause beer belly'
Fat man on beach
The man on the left could lose his beer belly and still drink
Binge drinkers are more likely to develop a beer belly than people who consume the same amount but spread their intake out, experts suggest.

Researchers believe that boozers who consume large amounts in one or two sittings tend to be more apple-shaped.

However, they say those who drink the same amount over the course of a week are less likely to be affected.

The Centre for Alcohol Research in Denmark suggests binge drinkers are more prone to serious ill health.

Research details were revealed to the Portman Group, the drinks industry-funded body which promotes responsible drinking.


Professor Morton Gronbeck, from the Copenhagen-based research centre, said: "We have some indication that people who are binge-drinking are more frequently apple-shaped.

If you have a high alcohol intake you should never binge-drink
Professor Morton Gronbeck
"They tend to be abdominally obese, but drinking the same amount of alcohol spread out over the week would not give you an apple shape."

Professor Gronbeck said people with an apple figure are at higher risk of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Past research carried out by Prof Gronbeck and colleagues among 57,000 people has highlighted the danger of binge drinking.

It has also suggested that moderate drinking can have a protective effect against cardiovascular disease.

But Professor Gronbeck said: "It seems that the greatest beneficial effect on coronary heart disease is only if you have a regular, small alcohol intake.

"If you have a high alcohol intake you should never binge drink, you should never drink more than four to five drinks a day."

'Beneficial' alcohol

He said around one or two units of alcohol a day, on five days a week, may have a beneficial effect on coronary heart disease.

But the risk of dying from all alcohol-related causes doubled if you had 10 drinks on two nights a week rather than drinking around two units a day, he added.

Even then, the beneficial effect only appeared to apply to the over-40s.

In the UK, women are advised not to drink more than two to three units of alcohol a day, and men three to four units.

Recent government figures revealed that a fifth of men and one in 11 women were now binge-drinkers in England.

For men this means drinking more than eight units of alcohol on at least one day in the week, and for women more than six units.



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