03/12/2010 - News

Moderate Alcohol Use Linked to Less Weight Gain in Women

By: June Chen, MD


Normal-weight women who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol may gain less weight and have a lower risk of being overweight or obese than women who do not drink at all, according to a study published in the March 8, 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and their colleagues studied 19,220 normal-weight women in the United States aged 39 year or older with no history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes. Study participants filled out a self-reported questionnaire on alcoholic beverage intake and body weight¸ and body weight was assessed each year during 8 years of follow-up.

Alcohol consumption was found to be  inversely related to weight gain over nearly 13 years of follow-up. The risk of developing obesity also decreased with increasing alcohol consumption up to 30 grams or more per day. These trends were noted for all four types of alcoholic beverages studied – red wine, white wine, beer, and liquor. Red wine consumption had the strongest association with less weight gain and lower risk of obesity.

The obesity epidemic is a major health problem in the United States, and it is linked to an increased risk of chronic medical conditions. While alcohol consumption is a source of calorie intake that might contribute to weight gain and the development of obesity, this study suggests that light to moderate drinking leads to less weight gain and a lower risk of obesity, but only among healthy women of a normal weight. However, these potential benefits need to be balanced against the medical and psychosocial problems related to drinking alcohol.



Ann Intern Med. 2010; 170: 453-461.


Created on: 03/12/2010
Reviewed on: 03/12/2010

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