Pass the Glass of Wine, Please

September 21, 2011

Light drinking associated with weight loss, or weight maintenance? Find out what Spanish researchers discovered when looking through the alcoholic literature

There’s good news for those of you who like to imbibe on occasion. Researchers now believe that previous assumptions about a link between alcohol and obesity are inaccurate – well to some level at least.

Researchers from Navarro University in Spain say that, "light-to-moderate alcohol intake, especially wine intake, may be more likely to protect against weight gain, whereas consumption of spirits has been positively associated with weight gain". Their analysis of previous research also demonstrates that although heavy drinkers are likely to put on weight, those who enjoy less caloric drinks such as wine – in smaller portions - may even lose weight as well as being at lower risk of developing diabetes. 

The research, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, says that “alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain” as 1 gram of alcohol has an energy content of 7.1 calories.

But analysis of 31 studies published between 1984 and 2010 found they were “contradictory” and did not “conclusively confirm” a link between drinking and weight gain, according to The Telegraph UK.

Navarro U researchers site studies that show heavy drinking is linked to weight gain but regular drinking is not, “results suggest that frequent consumption of small amounts of alcohol is the optimal drinking pattern associated with a lower risk of obesity.” The Spanish researchers also believe more research should be conducted regarding the role of “different types of alcoholic beverages;” for instance, a pint of beer contains about 200 calories, twice as many as a glass of wine.

Other research has suggested that moderate drinkers experience a 30 percent lower risk of developing diabetes, as well as, between 16 to 25 percent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Research on alcohol consumption as well as other dietary habits is very difficult due to other lifestyle factors that are hard to control or account for. It’s is advised to take precautions when choosing to drink alcoholic beverages. According to the USDA, there are individuals who should not drink including: those who are not able to limit the amount they drink or who plan to drive, pregnant women, individuals taking certain medications or with certain medical conditions, and those with alcoholism. And of course, those who do not currently drink are not recommended to take up drinking for health benefits.