Everybody knows beer causes beer bellies, right? Why else would they call it a beer belly?

Not so fast: a recent study, by German and Swedish researchers, of 20,000 people, calls that traditional wisdom into question.

This was no flash-in-the-pan study but an eight-and-a-half-year period involving 7,876 men and 12,749 women. And, expected, they learned there is indeed a correlation between alcohol consumption and weight gain.

Those who consumed alcohol regularly were most likely to put on weight.

However, they also learned that any weight gain tended to be randomly spread across the body. They apparently measured and monitored the waist-to-hip ratio of individuals in their study group and found no connection between weight gain in general and weight gain in the belly.

Oddly enough, the men most likely to pile on the pounds were those who drank regularly and who drank no beer at all. Light drinkers saw the least variation in their waist size.

So, what does cause beer bellies? According to the study, you can blame Mom and Dad. Yep, turns out genetics is the culprit; at least, according to the study’s authors.

Now, we can’t say we are the least bit surprised by this. We haven’t collected data on 20,000 people for eight or nine years to form our conclusions, but we see an awful lot of people coming through our little beer store.

They are all over the map in terms of ages and backgrounds. Some we see pretty regularly, and some are we see only now and then. But we will say this … there are very few (if any) that are not pretty fit-looking.

As a matter of fact, at the risk of telling stories out of school, some look darn fit.

A friend at the brewery the other day and commented about a recent trip to a province that we won’t name. His comment, though, was that it seemed like every third or fourth person was 50 pounds overweight.

Unless we have rose-coloured glasses on, we would say you just don’t see that so much in the Yukon.

So, maybe in addition to genetics, where you live and what you do with yourself while you live there might also have a lot to do with the shape of your shape.

After all, when you look at the numbers (the Yukon is far and away the leader in beer consumption per capita, although we all know it’s the tourists that makes that happen), one would think we would all be significantly rounder than we are. But, we’re not, and that just makes me think I should have a cold one to celebrate that fact.

This column is courtesy of the Yukon Brewing Company, an organization that comes in all sizes.