Beer DOESN'T give you a belly (well, any more than red wine or a packet of crisps)
Much-maligned drink is no worse for weight gain than any other type of alcohol or eating a high-calorie diet Swapping two large glasses of wine for two bottles of beer could save 500 calories a weekBeer also provides more health-boosting nutrients

Anna Hodgekiss


11:40 GMT, 12 February 2013



11:54 GMT, 12 February 2013

There is no conclusive scientific evidence that beer causes weight gain, a leading nutritionist has said

There is no conclusive scientific evidence that beer causes weight gain, a leading nutritionist has said

It has long been blamed for the rotund midriff sported by many middle-aged men.

But beer may not be the villain we all think it is when it comes to our waistlines, a leading nutrition expert has claimed.

Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan, a public health nutritionist with over 20 years' experience, says there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support the belief that beer in particular causes weight gain.

Rather, it is the consequence of any excess calories being consumed, regardless of whether they are from beer, wine or food.

In fact, she says that in many instances, beer has a relatively lower calorie value compared to other alcoholic drinks as well as a variety of everyday food items such as a banana, a bag of crisps or a cappuccino.

Challenging the label 'beer belly', she said: 'Moderate beer consumption does not lead to weight gain or abdominal fatness and the perception that drinking beer results in a beer belly is not supported by the scientific evidence to date.'

She says that obviously, if drunk in huge quantities, beer will cause weight gain – but so would any type of alcohol or excessive food intake.


10 per cent of people wrongly believe that beer contains fat – it actually contains zero fat and zero cholesterol

24 per cent of people wrongly think that red wine, rather than beer, contains the most vitamins

13 per cent of people incorrectly
believe that beer is made from ‘chemicals’, rather than its natural
ingredients malted barley and hops

The aim of her report, produced for
the British Beer and Pub Association, was to see whether beer is responsible for any extra weight gain over other alcoholic drinks such as

In it, she says the much-maligned beverage actually has a number of health benefits that are often ignored.

She said: 'While the nutritional and health benefits of wine are regularly promoted, the scientific research on beer is less known and rarely reported.'

In fact, comparatively, she says that wine could actually be worse for health, for replacing a standard glass of wine with half a pint of
beer would save 40 calories.

Half a pint of four per cent lager contains only 96
calories compared to a standard (175ml) glass of 13 per cent red wine, which contains 139 calories.

Swapping two large glasses of wine a day
with two bottles of lager could save more than 500 calories a week –
that’s 4,800 calories a month and 58,240 calories a year.

She said: '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.

In fact, swapping red wine for beer could save you 500 calories week - or nearly 60,000 a year

In fact, swapping red wine for beer could save you 500 calories week – or nearly 60,000 a year

'Enjoyed in moderation, beer, like wine, can
provide many essential vitamins and minerals. Beer contains vitamins which can help you to maintain a well-balanced healthy diet, fibre to keep you regular, readily absorbed antioxidants and minerals such as silicon which may help to lower your risk of osteoporosis. Yet few people are aware of its health properties.'

She added that many adults also harbour misconceptions about the calorie content of beer. More than half of us do not know how many calories are in either beer of wine, with three-quarters of women overestimating the calorie content of beer.

Serving sizes cause their own problems, she added. 'Many wines served now have an alcohol content of 13-14 per cent alcohol. Glass sizes can be as large as 250ml mean that one single large glass of wine could contain as many as 3.5 units – this compares with just 1 unit in half a pint of 3.6 per cent beer.