Health

Researchers Say Beer Bellies are a Myth

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While it makes sense to say someone has a beer belly when their stomach is bulging and they are holding a beer can, scientists say that may not be the case.

Beer does not have a special affect on the stomach region, just like sit-ups don't target belly fat. Professor Charles Bamforth of the University of California Davis said beer belly is a myth.

"The beer belly is a complete myth. The main source of calories in any alcoholic beverage is alcohol," he said. "There's nothing magical about the alcohol in beer, it's just alcohol."

He did note that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to something called ascites, which is the buildup of fluid around the abdomen. This is likely related to liver damage, though.

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The idea of a beer belly seems to have derived from the fact that beer cans and bottles have more servings than the glass of wine or a cocktail. This leads to beer drinkers gaining weight faster because they are consuming more calories.

"You are drinking it in more quantities than wine or liquor, so you tend to have more caloric intake," alcohol researcher Dr. Aliyah Sohani said. "You are talking about a difference between several hundred calories a night and a couple hundred."

But that doesn't mean a wine drinker or a cocktail drinker can't gain weight as well. Anyone who drinks or eats in excess is at risk of developing a belly.

Not only that, drinking in excess leads to many other health problems, most notably liver issues. 

"Drinking alcohol in excessive amounts can cause liver disease," Sohani warned.

Sources: Time, PopSci