Here's the reason for that beer belly

April 09, 1992|By McClatchy News Service

SACRAMENTO -- It may taste great, but it isn't less filling.

In fact, a new study has found that drinking alcoholic beverages not only adds calories, but makes the fat you already have burn away more slowly.

This cheery news for bearers of beer bellies comes from a University of Zurich study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers put people on a diet that included about 3 ounces of pure alcohol per day -- the equivalent of six shots of whiskey or six beers -- and found that the alcohol reduced the subjects' fat-burning by about one-third.

"This is one good explanation of why people get fat drinking alcohol," said Dr. Clifton Bogardus of the National Institutes of Health.

Studies have shown that the body burns carbohydrates -- sugars or starches -- faster than it does accumulated fat. The more fat in your diet, the longer it takes your body to get around to burning off some of it.

The Swiss study found that alcohol slows the fat-burning process even further. Just why, however, isn't clear. Researchers said it may be because the alcohol is burned off first, or because it affects the metabolic process in some unknown way.

The researchers did say that one can have a drink or two a day and not gain weight.

The study was conducted on eight men in two different sessions.

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