Half a pint less beer daily can slash obesity risk by a fifth

Pint of beer
Having half a pint instead of a pint daily was enough to slash obesity risks  Credit: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Swapping half a pint of beer for a glass of water could slash the risk of obesity by one fifth, research suggests.

The Spanish study tracked almost 16,000 people for more than eight years. It found that swapping one high sugar beverage a day for water made a huge difference to obesity risks.

Reducing beer intake by half a pint a day had the greatest impact. But replacing a glass of sugary soft drink with water was almost as effective.

Experts at the world’s largest obesity conference said the simple change is an easy way of beating the bulge - and protecting against fat-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Around two in three British adults are overweight or obese.

Spanish researchers followed 15,765 adults who were not fat at the start of the study. They measured their consumption of 17 different drinks and tracked their weight.

After eight years, 873 participants were obese. The study found drinking one less glass of beer daily (330ml) and having water instead, reduced the risk of being overweight by 20 per cent. And ditching a daily serving of sugary fizzy drink cut the chance of becoming obese by 15 per cent.

The researchers found no difference in obesity risk when switching any of the other 15 beverages, including fruit juice, coffee, milk and wine. The study was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto.

Lead researcher Dr Ujué Fresán, from University of Navarra in Spain, said: “This study found that replacing one sugar-sweetened soda beverage or beer with one serving of water per day at the start of the study was related to a lower incidence of obesity and to a higher weight loss over a four-year period in the case of beer.

“As obesity carries a high risk for the development of other diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, the possible effects of substituting these beverages with water is an important target to consider in future public health research.”

Experts said beer had particular problems because it is highly calorific - and tended to fuel other unhealthy habits.

Dr Paul Christiansen, from the University of Liverpool, said many beer drinkers did not think about the amount of extra “empty calories" they were taking in.

“Alcohol within itself is incredibly calorific – second only to fat – and beer is an easy way to consume alcohol,” he said. 

When people are dieting they check calories in food, but they are less likely to do so for alcoholic drinks.

“People also tend to eat more when they have alcohol, they struggle to control their intake. For example, getting a takeaway on the way home from the pub.

“Nobody goes out I really want to eat a kebab. You’ve already had a day’s full amount of calories and a skinful of beer.” He said the effect was lower in wine, because it had fewer calories.

Sarah Toule, Head of Health Information at World Cancer Research Fund, said:

“Beer is incredibly calorific. It not only encourages weight gain, but drinking alcohol can increase your risk of several cancers."

 

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