Excess calories -- whether from alcohol, sweetened beverages, or oversized portions of food -- can increase belly fat. Our bodies need calories, yet gram for gram, alcohol has almost as many calories as fat.
Alcohol does seem to have a particular association with an increased waistline, though. In general, that’s because when you drink alcohol, your liver is too busy burning off alcohol to burn off fat, leaving you with a beer belly. Studies show that alcohol can cause you to feel hungry by affecting hormones that regulate a sense of satiety.