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Beer Bellies A Myth?
Andrea Nichol

Beer bellies, for some beer drinkers, are a prideful symbol of their greatest passion: drinking beer. They proudly display their rounded protuberances as testimony to their excessive consumption of their chosen ambrosia. Are beer bellies caused by an excessive intake of beer? Not according to some scientists, who claim that beer bellies are a myth and not caused by foamy goodness at all.

Typically, the beer belly has been considered a man's province or tendency as over time, and with much flexing of arm muscles as they bring glass to mouth, the belly grows with age and consumption. Usually, when women gain weight, they often do so first on their thighs and hips, not their bellies. Women may develop a pot belly, but it is rarely referred to as a beer belly and is likely caused by age and childbirth.

Researchers in Britain and the Czech Republic surveyed close to 2000 Czechs in their study that asked the question: Is there an association between beer and obesity? The citizens of the Czech Republic are generally regarded as and have the honour to be the world's biggest beer drinkers. Dr. Martin Bobak from University College London and researchers at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague examined 891 men and 1,098 women between the ages of 25 and 64. All of the participants drank either no alcohol or only beer. There were only a few heavy drinkers. The participants were given a questionnaire and a medical examination during which their weight, waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index were measured. The conclusion? The association between beer and obesity, if it exists, is probably weak.

Then where does that rounded belly come from? Professor Morton Gronbeck of the Centre for Alcoholic research in Copenhagen, claims that binge drinkers tend to have more of an "apple-shaped" body. There is some indication that binge drinkers are more frequently apple-shaped, but if the amount of beer drunk is spread out over the week, it will not provoke the apple-shaped beer belly. This suggests that if beer drinkers drink in moderation and not in a binge fashion, they will not develop a beer belly.

Furthermore, some scientists believe that genetic make-up and not beer could be to blame for the beer belly. A team at the University of Naples examined natural variations in the genes found in men. They found that one variant, labelled "DD," is linked to developing fat around the stomach. Not all men have it so this study suggests that only those with this gene will get beer bellies. Which came first, the gene or the beer belly? If a man has the DD gene, he is twice as likely to develop a beer belly, but not necessarily from beer. If he binge drinks, he will probably get a beer belly. If a man does not have the DD gene, but he drinks copious amounts of beer, will he get a beer belly? Is he genetically able to develop one? He might, but what about the other factors involved in drinking beer?

According to most diet plans, alcohol and weight loss don't mix. Alcohol has almost twice the amount of calories than carbohydrates or protein. Alcohol can lessen the body's ability to burn stored fat both chemically and actively. Perhaps one reason is that the last thing drinkers want to do while drinking good beer is to get off that bar stool and exercise.

Have you ever tried to stick to a diet while drinking? It's almost impossible. If judgment while drinking is too impaired to drive a car, how can drinkers make healthy choices when faced with natchos and nuts to go with their beer? Also, many people would prefer to drink their calories during alcohol consumption and alcohol is not very nutritious, nor is it low in calories.

How can beer drinkers avoid a beer belly? As diet gurus have told us for years, moderation in all things promotes good health including a healthy body weight and shape. Beer bellies may not be the true result of drinking beer, but beer drinking is certainly an influence over aspects of diet and lifestyle that may cause that jiggly tummy called a beer belly.

About the author:

Andrea Nichol is a contributing writer to Excalibur Communications, the company that created The Beer Home Page - Your Online Guide to Great Brew Pubs. If you would like to discover the world of beer please visit The Beer Home Page-www.thebeerhomepage.com

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