The Telegraph reports that nutritionist Dr. Kathryn O’Sullivan recently authored the study, titled "Beer & Calories; A Scientific Review," on behalf of the beer industry. She found that there's no conclusive scientific evidence that suggests beer causes weight gain.
A couple of things strike us as funny, though. The report is nowhere to be found online, it was supposedly sponsored by the beer industry and O’Sullivan gives us no indication as to what the "beer industry" even means.
Still, she makes some interesting points: Beer has fewer calories by volume than wine, spirits and even orange juice. This is true, but in the case of wine and spirits, the drinker usually must consume a greater volume of beer for the same amount of alcohol. Regardless, O'Sullivan stressed that when consumed within reason, beer has health benefits.
“Enjoyed in moderation, beer, like wine, can provide many essential vitamins and minerals and moderate consumption may also protect against many conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes," she told the publication.
We were skeptical, but O'Sullivan's claim is backed up by previous research suggesting that beer decreases the drinker's chance of developing heart disease and diabetes. Another study even suggests that the dietary silicon in beer helps prevent osteoporosis in women.
Still unconvinced, The Huffington Post reached out to New York University's Dr. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health.
"[B]eer definitely has calories and if consumed in excess will put pounds on drinkers," Nestle explained in an email. "Excessive alcohol intake raises the risk for alcoholic liver disease and beer can be just as much as of a cause as any other kind of alcohol. But most beer bellies are just due to excessive calories from any source, beer among them."
So there you have it. Drinking beer won't necessarily make you grow a beer belly, but drinking it in excess might. In moderation, though, it could have some health benefits.