Count staying slim as one of the
apparent benefits of light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, at least for women.
New research found that women who
drank the equivalent of one to two drinks a day were least likely to gain
weight — 30 per cent less likely, in fact, than teetotallers.
“Our study results showed that
middle-age and older women who have normal body weight initially and consume
light-to-moderate amounts of alcohol could maintain their drinking habits
without gaining more weight, compared with similar women who did not drink any
alcohol,” said study author Dr. Lu Wang, an epidemiologist with the
division of preventive medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Wang and her colleagues followed
19,220 women, 39 years or older, for an average of 13 years. All participants
started the study with a normal body-mass index.
Although, on average, the women all
tended to gain weight as time progressed, abstainers gained the most. The
amount of weight gained decreased as alcohol consumption went up, the study
The researchers said they were
unable to draw conclusions about heavy drinkers because there were so few in
the study and because these women also tended to smoke, indicating they had
very different lifestyles from the other participants.
There could be any number of
reasons for the findings, including different ways that women metabolize
alcohol, compared with men.
Also, the researchers pointed out,
women tend to substitute alcohol for other foods, whereas men tend to simply
add alcohol to everything else they’re ingesting.
“The impact of alcohol
consumption on body weight needs to be considered in the context of energy
balance,” Wang explained. “Among women, those who regularly consume
light-to-moderate alcohol usually have a lower energy intake from non-alcohol
sources. On the other hand, alcohol intake tends to induce increased energy
expenditure beyond energy contents of the consumed alcohol in women. Taken
together, regular alcohol consumption in light-to-moderate amount may lead to a
net energy loss among women.”