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Moderate drinkers: Big belly, no, big bucks, yes

No, you don’t have to go back and read the headline a second time because, yes, you read it correctly the first time. According to two new studies, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol will not, I repeat, will not give you that infamous beer belly or equate you to middle to lower class, all-American man Hank Hill sitting in your front yard, admiring your latest mow job with a cold beer cracked and gripped in your hand. In fact, it might mean just the opposite.

The first of the two studies took place over the course of eight years, taking more than 20,000 beer drinkers and their beer-boasting habits into review. The results: although heavy drinkers were shown to put on some weight, it wasn’t necessarily on, around, or even near the belly.

It was those who drank more than 33 ounces, or two-and-a-half bottles, per day, that packed on the most pounds.

This study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and reported by Fox News in a recent article.

The second study found that moderate drinkers are wealthier, more educated and less likely to be disabled than those who choose a fixed seat on the wagon, which would also relate to all those studies published about how alcohol has been shown to increase life expectancy.

According to Dr. Sei J. Lee of San Francisco VA Medical Center and his colleagues, one drink a day halved a person’s risk of dying over the next four years, as reported by Fox News. Even after taking into account several factors that could influence alcohol use and mortality, the effect was weakened, but moderate drinkers were still 28 percent less likely to die than non-drinkers.

Believe it or not, the very first study to demonstrate this information was published more than 70 years ago, back in 1923. I guess that makes sense, taking into consideration that whole Prohibition bit….

What is still uncertain, however, is whether moderate drinkers (and I have to stress MODERATE here, that doesn’t include Mr. “I can drink a case of Bud and be fine” Dude) are healthier, overall, than non-drinkers.

I personally think it has something to do with the fact that moderate drinkers may just be overall less stressed than non-drinkers. Alcohol is a depressant, and drinking it in social situations lowers people’s inhibitions and allows many to relax and enjoy themselves more. If one never takes it too far, I think a life a little more relaxed would be better than one a little more stressed. Not to mention, stress is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. It helps skyrocket cholesterol and blood pressure, and even aids in increasing weight because of its relation to cortisol production in the body.

And as far as the moderate drinkers likely to have more money and more education, that study took into account functional disability and socioeconomic status.

Going back to Lee and his colleagues, they discovered that people who downed one drink a day had a significantly higher socioeconomic status than non-drinkers, as measured by income, wealth and years of education. As an example, 37 percent of drinkers had a college education, compared to 14 percent of non-drinkers, and 52 percent of drinkers had $300,000 in assets, while 21 percent of non-drinkers did.

They also found that non-drinkers also were more likely to have functional disabilities, such as difficulties in completing self-care activities like getting dressed or going to the bathroom, as well as problems with more complex activities such as making meals or managing their finances.

(This all goes back to what I touched on earlier…more relaxed and stress-free means less likely to develop problems. It’s all psychological.)

All this new information makes happy hour sound even, well, happier. Now, if I can only make it ’til 5:00….

2 comments so far

Did anyone, before posting this, actually read the published scientific article?? I tracked it down and it states: “Results: A positive association in men and no association in women were seen between beer consumption and WC at baseline. Men consuming 1000 ml/d beer were at 17% higher risk for WC gain compared with very light consumers. Significantly lower odds for WC gain (odds ratio=0.88; 95% confidence interval 0.81, 0.96) were found in beer-abstaining women than in very-light-drinking women. The adjustment for concurrent body weight and HC change diminished effect estimates notably, explaining most of the association between beer and change in WC. Decreasing beer consumption was related to higher relative odds for WC loss, although not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Beer consumption leads to WC gain, which is closely related to concurrent overall weight gain. This study does not support the common belief of a site-specific effect of beer on the abdomen, the beer belly.”

The article states that even LIGHT consumption will lead to weight gain. We all already knew that people gain weight differently, some gain in their legs, hips and thighs and others, gain in their mid-section. This article makes it sound like we can go out there and drink and not have to worry, as long as it’s moderate, but the SCIENCE and the ACTUAL RESEARCH that you are referring back to states that even with moderate alcohol consumption, you WILL gain weight.

Hi there!

Indeed, I did read the article before I wrote this blog. 🙂 My only intent in writing it was to say that not all people who drink will get a beer belly, and of course to include all the other positive effects moderate drinking appears to bring in.

I apologize for not implying the intended message, as obviously you got something entirely different from what I meant to convey.

I also should have included that the study showed genetics as being the biggest factor in putting on that beer bulging belly, not drinking, alone.

I also did not mean to convey that everyone should just go out and have a drink every once in a while and not expect to gain weight. This is why I tried to stress “moderate” several times in the article.

And of course drinking any amount of alcohol, especially beer, if a healthy diet and good exercise plan are not a part of one’s regular routine, will cause weight gain.

I also want to thank you for your very informative comment. :] It’s important that I get feedback like yours, not only to help our readers get a better picture of what news I’m trying to bring, but to help me out in the future with writing these blogs.

Your opinion is extremely important to me.

Keep the comments coming! 🙂

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