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Women Who Drink Moderately Appear
To Gain Less Weight
Than Nondrinkers

Normal-weight women who drink a light to moderate amount
of alcohol appear
to gain less weight and have a lower risk
of becoming overweight and obese than non-drinkers,
according to a report in the March 8 issue of "Archives
Internal Medicine".

More than half of American adults drink alcoholic beverages,
according to
background information in the article. Alcohol
contains about 7 calories per gram (with approximately
28 grams
per ounce) and alcohol drinking may possibly lead to
weight gain
through an imbalance of energy consumed and energy
However, research has not consistently provided evidence
consuming alcohol is a risk factor for obesity. Scientists from

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston studied 19,220 U.S.
women age 39 or older who had a body mass index (BMI) in the
range classified as normal (18.5 to 25). On an initial questionnaire,
participants reported how many alcoholic beverages they typically
drank per day.

A total of 7,346 (38.2 percent) reported drinking no alcohol; 6,312
(32.8 percent) drank less than 5 grams; 3,865 (20.1 percent) drank
5 to less than 15 grams; 1,129 (5.9 percent) drank 15 to less than
30 grams; and 568 (3 percent) drank 30 grams per day or more.

Over an average of 13 years of follow-up, women on average
gained weight progressively. Women who did not drink alcohol at
all gained the most weight, with weight gain decreasing as alcohol
intake increased. A total of 7,942 (41.3 percent) women who initially
had normal weight become overweight or obese (BMI of 25 or
higher), including 732 (3.8 percent) who become obese (BMI of
30 or higher). Compared with women who did not drink at all, those
who consumed some but less than 40 grams per day of alcohol
were less likely to become overweight or obese.

Women who drank 15 to less than 30 grams per day had the lowest
risk, which was almost 30 percent lower than that of non-drinkers.
“An inverse association between alcohol intake and risk of
becoming overweight or obese was noted for all four types of
alcoholic beverages [red wine, white wine, beer and liquor], with
the strongest association found for red wine and a weak yet
significant association for white wine” the authors write.

The authors caution that, given potential medical and psychosocial
problems related to drinking alcohol, its beneficial and adverse
effects for each individual must be considered before making any
recommendation about its use. “Further investigations are warranted
to elucidate the role of alcohol intake and alcohol metabolism in
energy balance and to identify behavioral, physiological and genetic
factors that may modify the alcohol effects,” they conclude.
This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes
of Health, Bethesda, Md. These grants provided funding for study
conduct and data collection.
Journal Reference: Wang et al. Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain,
and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women.
Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010; JAMA and Archives Journals.