She is a friend of my parents and was kindly letting me stay at her house, so I couldn’t really tell her she was an idiot.
But she was an educated woman, and had worked in the medical profession, so she should have known better.
I was recounting the story to her of how my dad had declared he was cutting back on the small amount of beer he would drink in his evening ritual – but not the quantity of food or wine he would consume afterwards – because he said it was making him fat.
Deluded, I told her. Typical wine snob. Beer does not make you fat, any more than a lamb chop or a piece of toast does.
“Oh that’s not right,” my host said. “What about the beer belly?”
Sigh. It’s just called that because people like the alliteration. It could just as easily be called the doughnut belly, or the wine belly or the Ido-bugger-all-exercise belly, but that doesn’t trip off the tongue quite so well, does it?
She insisted: “It’s a fact that men who drink a lot of beer get a particular shape of gut.”
We were in a bar and I had a lovely brown ale in front of me, so I pointed to it and said: “Given most of what is in this glass is water, a tiny bit of it is alcohol, there is some hop flavouring and a few nutrients from the malt, what secret ingredient is it that turns men into lard balls?”
She is typical of the huge majority of people who think beer has a mysterious ability to make men, particularly, fat.
It’s just rubbish. Here’s an extract from Time magazine: ‘According to University of California Davis food science professor Charles Bamforth, the colloquial notion of the beer belly – that beer somehow uniquely targets the gut – doesn’t jibe with medical science. “The beer belly is a complete myth. The main source of calories in any alcoholic beverage is alcohol,” Bamforth told Popular Science.
“There’s nothing magical about the alcohol in beer, it’s just alcohol.”
Alcohol doesn’t have VIP dibs on abdominal fat. It’s just another ingredient in your caloric regimen.’
The body handles alcohol in a way that is conducive to fat accumulation, it is true. But it doesn’t discriminate between alcohol delivered to it via beer, wine or spirits. If you drink only wine in unhealthy quantities, you’ll get a “beer” gut.
I say all this because brewing major Lion has just added nutrition information panels to bottles and cartons across its Australian beer portfolio. Hopefully, it will help dispel some of the beer myths.
In what will probably become industry-standard, the company’s beers will carry information on sugar, preservative, calorie (kilojoule) and carbohydrate content.
Matt Tapper, marketing director of Lion’s Australian beer business says: “Despite the fact beer is still the drink of choice for most Australians, our knowledge of how it’s made and what’s in it is pretty patchy.
“Most people think beer is full of sugar and preservatives, when in fact our beers are preservative-free and most are on average 99.9 per cent sugar-free.
“We want to fill in the gaps for beer drinkers.” email@example.com