This study examined the relationship between alcohol and 8-year weight gain in women, the investigators studied 49,324 women, 27 to 44 years old, who did not have a history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes, who were not pregnant during the study period, and who reported weights in 1991 and 1999.
At baseline, the alcohol consumers were leaner, smoked more, and tended to consume the same number of non-alcohol calories than abstainers, but consumed more calories when adding those from alcohol. As shown in Table 2 of the paper, the largest increase in weight over follow up were in the never drinkers and ex-drinkers (who had the same amount of weight gain of 5.9 kg), followed by the heaviest drinkers (5.83 kg). The lowest weight gain was among the consumers of 15.0-29.9 g/day (about 1 to slightly over 2 typical “drinks”), where the increase was 5.35 kg.
When evaluated by the odds ratio of an increase of 5 or more kg, the lowest adjusted value was for the consumers of 15.0-29.9 g/day where, in comparison with abstainers, the OR was 0.86 (95% CI = 0.76, 0.98). The reduction in risk of weight gain was particularly strong in women with a BMI between 25 and 30, who for an intake of 15-29.9g/day showed an OR for weight gain of 0.63 versus abstainers; women with a baseline BMI > 30 had a tendency to actually increase their risk of weight gain at this level of drinking.
Results were different for African-American women, who were much more obese than whites (BMI 27.1 vs. 24.6), drank much less, and showed a positive relation between alcohol intake and weight gain. Weight changes for beer and wine intake were similar, although liquor consumption did not show a reduction in risk of obesity with moderate drinking. Episodic heavy drinkers tended to show increased risk of weight gain, but there was little difference between moderate drinkers consuming alcohol on 4-7 days per week versus 1-3 days per week.
Source: Wannamethee SG, Field AE, Colditz GA, Rimm EB. Obes Res 2004;12:1386 -1396