Ladies, if you have one to two drinks a day, it could help you maintain your current weight so you'll never become overweight or obese as you age. Staying slim is one of the apparent benefits of light-to-moderate alcohol consumption.
The gotcha? It only works for women.
HealthDay News reports that researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston found that women who drink the equivalent of one to two drinks a day are 30 percent less likely to gain weight than those who never drink alcohol.
"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 lead study author Dr. Lu Wang.
The study: More than 19,000 women, all of whom were 39 years or older and started the study with a normal body mass index, were followed for an average of 13 years. All the women were disease-free. The women reported their weight and alcohol consumption on a questionnaire at the beginning of the study and again on eight annual follow-up questionnaires.
The results: On average, all the women tended to gain weight as they aged. Just over 40 percent became overweight and 3.8 percent became obese. While the women who gained the most weight were those who abstained from alcohol, weight gain decreased as alcohol consumption increased. Specifically, those who consumed five to 30 grams of alcohol daily were less likely to become overweight or obese. (There were so few heavy drinkers in the study, researchers were unable to draw conclusions about their weight gain.)
How many grams of alcohol are in beer, wine and spirits?
- A 12-ounce beer contains about 14 grams of alcohol.
- A 12-ounce light beer contains about 11 grams of alcohol.
- A 5-ounce glass of red or white wine contains 15 to 16 grams of alcohol.
- A 1.5-ounce shot of 80 proof liquor contains about 14 grams of alcohol.
Why does alcohol help prevent weight gain in women but not men?
- Women metabolize alcohol differently.
- Women tend to substitute alcohol for food, while 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 to HealthDay News. "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."
The takeaway: The key is to consume alcohol in moderation, especially since it has also been linked in previous research to a higher risk for some types of cancer, including cancers of the breast and liver. Drinking alcohol should never be used as a weight-loss method.
The story findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
--From the Editors at Netscape