Moultrie Observer


November 17, 2012

Latest finding: Beer is not diet food

MOULTRIE — Someone should make a list of things we know and things we don’t know and only do studies about the things that we don’t know.

In other words, we already know that drinking a lot of water is good for us. What we don’t know is how to efficiently convert the hydrogen in water into a fuel for conventional automobiles.

We tend to spend a lot of money studying the obvious. I offer you the latest on my premise:

A federal study (that means taxpayers had to pay for it) concluded that drinking beer will make you fat. I already knew this. They used to call this phenomenon a “beer gut.”

This federal study tells us that adults get almost as many empty calories from booze as from soft drinks. What they didn’t include in their results of this study is that beer also will make you bump your head, tell lies and bet on the wrong team. Sodas won’t.

They found that alcohol contains few nutrients but plenty of calories, much like soda. It’s almost like someone had told them that beer was part of a balanced diet and they wanted to refute it.

The study is based on interviews with more than 11,000 U.S. adults from 2007 through 2010. Allegedly, this study is linked to the focus of obesity-fighting public health campaigns. I agree that anti-obesity programs are important given the health issues that manifest themselves in this venue.

 But when the smoke clears, common sense tells us most of what we need to know. If the kitchen is never closed, we get fat. If we eat it just because it’s there, we get fat. If we don’t exercise, we get fat. If we combine those tendencies, we get fatter.

I did not research what it cost us taxpayers for someone in a white lab coat to conclude that booze is not a diet food. And I already had a strong hunch in that regard.

Now should we expect this information to change a lot of habits? No we shouldn’t. A guy with a beer gut will just rationalize that he has something to keep chili from dripping off his hot dog onto his shoes. Or it’s a good place to rest the clipboard while filling out all of that paperwork during a heart exam.

A lot of questions were asked in this survey and here’s some of the stuff they found:

—On any given day, about one-third of men and one-fifth of women consumed calories from beer, wine or liquor.

—Averaged out to all adults, the average guy drinks 150 calories from alcohol each day, or the equivalent of a can of Budweiser.

—The average woman drinks about 50 calories, or roughly half a glass of wine.

—Men drink mostly beer. For women, there was no clear favorite among alcoholic beverages.

—There was no racial or ethnic difference in average calories consumed from alcoholic beverages. But there was an age difference, with younger adults putting more of it away.

In September, New York City approved an unprecedented measure cracking down on giant sodas, those bigger than 16 ounces, or half a liter. Even people poor at math can get around such an ordinance by ordering two 8-ounce drinks which means the practical application of such an ordinance falls far short of intent. So do we expect smaller beers?

Anti-obesity efforts are well-intended. Some are even rational and have positive effects. Some have no more impact that a windmill taking on a tornado.

I’ve learned some things along my journey and they include the facts that you can’t force democracy, and you can’t legislate common sense. You also can’t discover something that we knew already, but you can spend a lot of money stating the obvious.

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. Email:

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