A new report launched today by leading nutritionist Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan finds no conclusive scientific evidence to support the belief that beer causes weight gain and challenges the label  ‘the beer belly’.

The report ‘Beer & calories; a scientific review’ examines the latest scientific evidence and instead concludes that beer, the UK’s national drink, when drunk in moderation has nutritional and wellbeing benefits which are at least similar to its fashionable European counterpart, wine1.

Beer contains vitamins which can help you to maintain a well-balanced healthy diet, fibre to keep you regular, readily absorbed antioxidants and minerals such as silicon which may help to lower your risk of osteoporosis.  Yet few people are aware of its health properties.

The evidence of the effect of excessive alcohol consumption on increased mortality and morbidity is not disputed within the report but the growing scientific support that moderate consumption of beer can be associated with health benefits cannot now be ignored according to Dr O’Sullivan.

The launch of the report comes at the end of for what many has become ‘Dry January’ – a month of abstinence and dieting.  However, Dr O’Sullivan suggests that rather than taking a ‘boom and bust’ approach to detox and dieting  – reducing our calorie intake followed by excessive consumption and overeating – we need to be more ‘consumer aware’  at managing alcohol consumption all year round – both at home and when socialising.

People in Britain spend on average 14 years dieting in their lifetime, yet when it comes to counting calories in drinks, we have some big misconceptions. 55% of adults don’t know how many calories there are in either beer of wine. 74% of women overestimate the calorie content of beer2.  So, rather than feel guilty, whilst you reach for a drink in February, try beer, our great British success story and enjoy its myriad tastes and complexities – just in moderation.

Serving sizes and alcohol content of drinks is also an area of consumer confusion in the UK.  Many wines served now have an alcohol content of 13-14%. Glass sizes can be as large as 250ml which would mean that one single large glass of wine could contain as many as 3.5 units – this compares with just 1 unit in half a pint of ABV 3.6% beer.

  1. Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan’s advice to manage calories & alcohol consumption includes
  2. Try beer; it’s the drinks category with the lowest alcohol content and a half pint of 4% lager contains only 96 calories compared to a standard (175ml) glass of red (13%) which contains 139 calories
  3. Beer is sold in single service containers and set serving sizes so it’s easier to keep track of alcohol units
  4. Use small wine glasses; a 750ml bottle of wine should provide 6 x 125ml glasses rather than 3 large ones
  5. Invest in a spirit measure to help keep track of how much you’re drinking
  6. Swapping two large glasses of wine a day with two bottles of lager could save 480 calories a week (based on three drinking days a week)

The British Beer & Pub Association has launched a microsite ‘’ to address the common misconceptions and myths surrounding the drink. The site provides a practical and definitive guide to the alcohol and calorie content of drinks. These include:

  • 10% of people wrongly believe that beer contains fat – beer contains zero fat and zero cholesterol
  • 24% of people wrongly think that red wine, rather than beer, contains the most vitamins
  • 13% of people incorrectly believe that beer is made from ‘chemicals’ rather than its natural ingredients malted barley and hops3

Dr O’Sullivan comments; “Beer drinking in Britain has become regarded by many as a vice and not a component of a healthy balanced lifestyle.  But this is contrary to the latest scientific evidence.  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 diabetes4.”

If you are going to accept that people want to enjoy alcoholic drinks then, on balance, beer is one of the healthier ways to do so.  Whilst the report does not suggest that people should rush out and drink large amounts of alcohol, it shows that all the potential benefits of beer, for our health and well-being can be enjoyed when beer is drunk in moderation.


For more press information please contact: Jo Gulliver or Caroline Beswick at Trinity PR on tel: 020 7 112 4905 / 0770- 948 7960 or email:

Notes to editors
  1. is a new microsite launched by the British Beer and Pub Association to provide the public and the media with the most accurate information, research and news on the nutritional content of all styles of beer.  The site contains updated facts on beer and nutrition, with referenced data, robust statistics and reports on the latest scientific evidence from across the globe.
  2. Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan is a public health nutritionist with over 20 years of experience in academia and the food industry. She is well published in both scientific and consumer press. Her academic interests include fibre and bowel health, obesity, nutrition education and general nutrition. Throughout her career, Kathryn has undertaken a variety of academic research, and has worked as a University lecturer and visiting examiner for BSc and MSc science degree courses.   She has worked with many food companies in the UK, Ireland, Middle East and Greece.  Academically, Kathryn holds a PhD in Clinical Medicine, a BSc in Human Nutrition and a Diploma in Dietetics and currently works as a freelance consultant nutritionist.