Womens' obesity risks lowered with daily drinks, study finds

Ladies — it might be time to stop worrying that the Wednesday night glass of wine is just empty calories.

A new study tracking 20,000 American women through middle age found those who had two or more drinks a day gained less weight than their non-drinking counterparts.

The study is published in the March 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston asked normal-weight women 39 years and older to report their weight and drinking habits. Normal weight for women is defined as a body mass index between 18.5 and 25.

Through the nearly 13 years of follow-up, the women steadily gained weight.

However, women who drank more than 30 grams of alcohol a day — about 2 normal-sized drinks — gained the least weight. They gained on average 3.4 pounds, with the amount of weight gained increasing with decreased alcohol consumption. The non-drinkers gained an average of 8 pounds.

When looking at the risk of becoming obese, any woman who imbibed 15 or more grams of alcohol a day — or 1 or more drinks — would be at lowest risk.

Not all alcohol is equally kind to the waistline. While drinking any kind of alcohol decreased the risk of becoming obese, red wine drinkers were least likely to become obese. Beer and liquor came in second, with white wine having the weakest correlation with declining obesity risk.

The findings oppose the conventional wisdom that alcohol is misspent calories.

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