For scientists have discovered that the so-called 'beer belly' is not caused by consuming alcohol – but more to do with genetics.
A study of thousands of beer drinkers found that although people who drink regularly are more likely to put on weight， they do not necessarily accumulate fat around the abdomen.
Researchers monitored more than 20，000 people – 7，876 men and 12，749 women – over an average of eight-and-a-half years.
John Daly's bare belly
Bare-belly： the size of golfer John Daly's stomach may be to do with his genes， not beer consumption
Men who were classed as the heaviest drinkers – regularly consuming two pints of beer a day – put on the most weight.
But when the researchers then measured hip-to-waist ratios to establish which drinkers developed a pot belly， the results were randomly spread across all drinking groups.
The scientists concluded that genetic factors dictating how people put on weight were more significant than drinking beer.
However， they insist that their findings do not mean that drinking should be encouraged， and recommend giving up alcohol completely to avoid gaining weight.
In the study they measured participants' weight， waist and hip circumference at the start and then asked them to document their measurements regularly themselves.
The results were adjusted for variables including illness， the menopause， dieting and smoking.
The men most likely to put on weight were those who drank the most and also those who drank no beer at all.
Light drinkers saw the least variation in their waist size. For women， drinking more beer was more directly associated with piling on the pounds.
But for all the categories， drinking beer led to overall weight gain on both the waist and the hips， and did not necessarily lead to a beer belly.
The study stated： 'This analysis showed the empirical basis for the common belief of a beer belly， as we found that beer drinking and waist circumference were positively associated.
'However， our data provided only limited evidence for a site-specific effect of beer drinking on waist circumference， and beer consumption seems to be rather associated with an increase in overall body fatness.
'In terms of public health relevance， it may be therefore important to focus on beer abstention to maintain body weight.
'In terms of the beer belly belief， an explanation could be that all the observed beer bellies in the population result from the natural variation in fat patterning and not from the fact of drinking beer.'
The study， which was carried out by German and Swedish researchers， was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Beer contains no fat and， measure for measure， has fewer calories than wine. A pint of beer contains about 200 calories， whereas the same volume of wine contains nearly 400.
John Daly's bare belly