The study started out with nearly 20,000 trim middle-aged and older women. Over time, women who drank alcohol in moderation put on less weight and were less apt to become overweight compared to non-drinkers. This was true even after taking into account various lifestyle and dietary factors that might influence a woman’s weight.
Red wine seemed best at keeping weight in check, but white wine, beer and spirits also had some benefit.
Many prior studies have suggested that moderate drinking – usually defined as a drink or two a day –can be a healthy habit, particularly with regard to heart health, while heavy drinking can harm health.
The study found that women who drank higher amounts of alcohol were generally more physically active, weighed slightly less at the outset and were more apt to be smokers, than other women.
However, the association between drinking and less weight gain and risk of becoming overweight or obese remained strong after accounting for these factors. This suggests that alcohol may independently affect body weight beyond its relationship with diet and lifestyle factors.
There are several reasons why alcohol might help women stay trim, according to Dr Lu. Wang , who lead the research. In the current study, women consuming more alcohol ate less, particularly carbohydrates – a finding seen in other studies. Moreover, it’s been shown that women tend to expend more energy after drinking alcohol – more so than that contained in the alcohol. “Taken together, regular alcohol consumption in light-to-moderate amount may lead to a net energy loss among women,” Wang said.