To begin with, here are some examples, from here and there, of beer consumption. In Germany and in 2006, it was, per person, 112 liters per year and, also in Germany and in 2011, more than 70% of adolescents and 50% of adolescents had consumed beer in the 30 days prior to the survey . Near Germany, also in central Europe, in the Czech Republic, 79% of men and 55% of women regularly consume beer. In Spain and in 2017, according to the report of Cerveceros de España, the consumption of this drink was 48.3 liters per year. That year, consumption in Germany was 104 liters per year.
This consumption has led to the widespread popular belief that beer consumption is the cause of the so-called beer belly or, in more technical terms, abdominal obesity, as reported by Schütze and colleagues from the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal. . But we will see how there are studies that support this relationship and others that deny it, and there are even some that conclude, and it is surprising that the relationship is negative, that is, that the beer is thinning.
In the work of Schütze, with the epidemiological method, involved 7876 men and 12749 women, from 35 to 65 years, and with a follow-up of the weight, circumference in the hips and consumption of beer in milliliters per day at the beginning of the study and at six years and eight and a half years.
The results show that in 57% of men and 67% of women, weight increases during the years of the study. As for beer consumption, 57% of men and 69% of women remain stable, and in 30% of men and 22% of women, it decreases. Therefore, in 13% of men and 9% of women, beer consumption grows.
In men with high consumption, the weight and the circumference of the hips grow. The result is a U-curve: with moderate consumption, less than half a liter per day, they do not change weight and circumference; and in those that increase more both parameters is in the abstainers and in those who consume more than one liter a day. In women, there is an increase in weight and circumference in consumers of little beer and, on the other hand, they decrease with a moderate consumption of around 250 milliliters a day.
The authors conclude that there is a relationship between beer consumption, if high, and weight, although they doubt whether the change detected is due more to the changes in the distribution of fats in the body with age. Therefore, the popular belief in the relationship between beer and beer belly is not proven by this study.
In the epidemiological study of the Czech Republic, with 891 men and 1098 women aged 25 to 64 years, the average weekly beer intake is 3.1 liters in men and 0.31 liters in women. It is in this study that the authors detect, in women, a small negative relationship between the consumption of beer and the Body Mass Index, that is, that the beer thin, but little does. In conclusion, in the Czech Republic there is no relationship between abdominal obesity and the ingestion of beer.
On the other hand, in Brazil, the study by Paula Aballo Nunes Machado and Rosery Sichieri, from the State University of Rio de Janeiro, finds a relationship between abdominal obesity and the taking of four or more drinks a day, that is, almost liter and a half of beer. The epidemiological study was done with 2441 volunteers, 57% women, and ages 20 to 60 years.
In an experimental, non-epidemiological work,Javier Romeo and his group, from the Instituto del Frío del CSIC, in Madrid, planned an experiment with 58 volunteers, of whom 27 were women, with an average age of 36 years. After one month of alcohol withdrawal, the volunteers consumed, in the following month, 330 milliliters of beer a day for women (what is called a third or the contents of a beer can) and 660 milliliters (two cans) a day the men. After studying the data, the group concludes that there is no relationship between beer consumption and changes, neither positive nor negative, in body weight, hip circumference or the Body Mass Index. After all, a can of beer is about 145 kilocalories, more than a yogurt with sugar (or three times less than a piña colada). There is no relationship, in this study, between beer and beer belly.
In a meta-analysis on beer and obesity published in 2013, Bendsen and his colleagues, from the University of Copenhagen, reviewed 35 epidemiological studies with weight and beer consumption data taken from the general population, with groups between 317 and 44080 volunteers and follow-ups from 3.7 to 10 years. They also used twelve experimental studies, with beer drinking and weight variations. They considered that the standard ration of beer is the third, or 330 milliliters, a day, and with 4.6 degrees of alcohol.
They reached several conclusions and, in the first place, epidemiological studies indicate that consuming more than half a liter of beer per day is positively related to abdominal obesity or, if that is the case, to the beer belly. In contrast, experimental studies give different results. Six of them indicate that the consumption of beer for 21-126 days increases the weight an average of 0.73 kilograms but, nevertheless, other four studies do not show increases in weight.
According to the authors and in general, although the published data are of low quality, the final conclusion is that there is no evidence that moderate beer consumption, up to half a liter a day, is associated with abdominal obesity. But consumption above these amounts seems to cause the emergence of the beer belly.
Therefore, there are doubts about the existence of the beer belly, especially for moderate consumption of beer, although, it is also indisputable, that beer is drunk, sometimes too much, and that the belly, for many, exists, although, I repeat the relationship between the two is in debate.
Bendsen, NT et al. 2013. Is beer related to abdominal and general obesity? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews 71: 67-87.
Bobak, M. et al. 2003. Beer and obesity: a cross-sectional study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57: 1250-1253.
Brewers of Spain. 2018. Socio-economic report of the beer sector in Spain . Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Madrid. 56 pp.
Gaetano, C. de, et al. 2016. Effects of moderate beer on health and disease: A consensus document. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseasesdoi: 10.1016 / j.numecd.2016.03.007
Machado, PAN & R. Sichieri. 2002. Relaçao waist-quadril and adult diet fatores. Public Health Magazine 36: 198-204.
Romeo, J. et al. 2007. Does beer influence weight gain? Effects of a moderate consumption of beer on body composition. Hospital Nutrition 22: 223-228.
Schütze, H. et al. 2009. Beer and the “beer belly”: scientific basis or common belief? European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 63: 1143-1149.