Just half a glass of wine or one small bottle of beer a day can lead to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, a major study suggests.
The risk of metabolic syndrome (a combination of the three life-threatening conditions) rises in tandem with alcohol consumption, researchers found.
The study of almost 27 million adults found that those who enjoyed a regular tipple were far more likely than those who abstained to suffer from health problems.
Men who downed an average of half a glass of wine or a quarter pint of beer daily were 10 per cent more prone to obesity, and metabolic syndrome.
One to two glasses of wine, or up to a pint of beer, was associated with 22 and 25 per cent greater odds, respectively, and rising to 34 and 42 per cent beyond this.
This was compared with those who never drank.
In women, regular drinking was shown to increase the risk of obesity, though the occasional tipple appeared to offer some protection against metabolic syndrome.
Half a glass of wine a day raised the risk of obesity by nine per cent, but reduced the odds of metabolic syndrome by three per cent (compared with non-drinkers).
And women drinking more than two glasses a day were 22 and 18 per cent more likely to develop obesity and metabolic syndrome, respectively.
The study was presented at the virtual European and International Congress on Obesity was based on over 14 million men and 12 million women in South Korea.
Lead author Dr Hye Jung Shin, of the National Medical Centre in Seoul, South Korea, said: “Consuming more than half a standard alcoholic drink a day is associated with an increased risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome in both men and women, and the risk rises in proportion with alcohol intake.”
“Even light alcohol intake is linked to metabolic syndrome.”
The syndrome is linked to a host of health problems, causing high blood sugar and cholesterol, increasing the chance of a heart attack and stroke.
Researchers analysed two years of data from the Korean National Health Insurance System collected in 2015 and 2016.
The team defined one standard drink as 14g of alcohol, roughly equivalent to a small (118ml) glass of wine or a 355ml bottle of beer. Other factors taken into account included age, exercise levels, smoking history and income.