Massachusetts Beverage Business



Female dieters take heart: consuming alcohol could help keep the weight off. How’s that for a paradox? While there may be many harmful effects of alcohol, weight gain among light drinkers appears to be not one of them. According to a new study reported in the archives of internal medicine, women of normal weight who drank a moderate amount of alcohol, particularly red wine, were less likely to gain weight than women who didn’t drink at all, despite the calories in wine, beer and liquor. Dr. Lu Wang of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and her colleagues followed almost 2O,OOO healthy women age 39 or older who answered questions annually about their weight and alcohol consumption. After almost 13 years, 41 percent of the women became overweight and 4 percent became obese. Women who did not drink gained the most weight. The amount of weight gained slid lower as the amount of alcohol consumed climbed. Compared with nondrinkers, women who drank between one and two drinks had a 3O percent lower risk of becoming overweight, with red wine accounting for the strongest association. However, the risk of becoming overweight did not go down further when the women drank more than 4O grams of alcohol a day. One notable difference is that women in the study tended to substitute their alcohol for food, and consumed fewer calories than non drinkers. Unknown differences between women who drink moderately and those who don’t could explain the findings, even though the researchers tried to account for other factors. Some studies have suggested that resveratrol, found in grapes and red wine, appears to inhibit the development of fat cells and to have other anti-obesity properties.

Interestingly, the findings do not apply to men. A 2OO3 study of British men showed that regular drinkers gained more weight than nondrinkers. Men typically add alcohol to their daily caloric intake, whereas women are more likely to substitute alcohol for food. In addition, there may be differences in how men and women metabolize alcohol. Metabolic studies show that after men drink alcohol, they experience little if any metabolic change. But alcohol appears to slightly speed up a woman’s metabolism.

Back to the top »