Can a drink a day keep the pounds away?
Dieters are often advised to stop drinking alcohol to avoid the extra calories in a glass of wine or a cocktail. But new research suggests that women who regularly consume moderate amounts of alcohol are less likely to gain weight than non-drinkers.
The finding in the Archives of Internal Medicine, are based on a 13-year study of nearly 20,000 normal-weight women over 39. About 60 percent of the women were light or regular drinkers, while about 40 percent reported drinking no alcohol.
Over the course of the study, most of the women gained weight and 41 percent became overweight or obese. But here’s the surprise. The nondrinkers gained more weight over time: nine pounds, on average, compared to three pounds for the regular moderate drinkers. The risk of becoming overweight was almost 30 percent lower for women who consumed one or two alcohol beverages a day, compared with nondrinkers.
The findings are confusing because there are conflicting messages about the benefits and risks of alcohol. Although moderate drinking is associated with better heart health, regular drinking also increases breast cancer risk.
And what about men? The trend toward less weight gain among drinkers doesn’t appear to hold true for them.