Women can enjoy a tipple and stay slim, according to a study that shows moderate drinkers gain less weight than teetotallers.
Women who drank red wine gained the least, but the results held for other wines, beers and spirits. Although alcohol contains calories, the US researchers believe the women may have substituted it for other food. Their work in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed over 19,000 women over 13 years.
The women recruited into the study were aged 39 or over and of normal weight at the time they joined. Over the next 13 years, on average, they gained weight progressively. Those who drank no alcohol gained the most weight, and there was an inverse relationship between weight gain and alcohol consumption. Even after accounting for lifestyle, dietary factors and things like smoking and exercise, the study found those who drank the least gained the most weight. Moderate drinking was classed as drinking up to about two 150ml glasses of wine a day.
Although the study did not include men, the authors believe the findings may not apply to men. The women in the study who drank appeared to substitute alcohol for other food, meaning their overall calorie intake did not go up that much. They say men who drink might not do this.