A systematic review was conducted to assess the evidence linking beer consumption to abdominal and general obesity. Following a systematic search strategy, 35 eligible observational studies and 12 experimental studies were identified. Regarding abdominal obesity, most observational data pointed towards a positive association or no association between beer intake and waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio in men, whereas results for women were inconsistent. Data from a subset of studies indicated that beer intake > 500 mL/day may be positively associated with abdominal obesity. Regarding general obesity, most observational studies pointed towards an inverse association or no association between beer intake and body weight in women and a positive association or no association in men. Data from six experimental studies in men, in which alcoholic beer was compared with low-alcoholic beer, suggested that consumption of alcoholic beer (for 21-126 days) results in weight gain (0.73 kg; P < 0.0001), but data from four studies comparing intake of alcoholic beer with intake of no alcohol did not support this finding. Generally, experimental studies had low-quality data. In conclusion, the available data provide inadequate scientific evidence to assess whether beer intake at moderate levels (<500 mL/day) is associated with general or abdominal obesity. Higher intake, however, may be positively associated with abdominal obesity.
© 2012 International Life Sciences Institute.