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.
The papers that did find a link tended to involve studies of heavy drinking,
so the Spanish researchers suggest: “It is possible that heavy drinkers may
experience such an effect more commonly than light drinkers.”
They say more research should be carried out into the role of “different types
of alcoholic beverages”. A pint of lager contains about 200 calories, twice
as many as in a glass of wine.
“The type of alcoholic beverage might play an important role in modifying the
effect of alcohol consumption on weight gain.”
Members of the forum, commenting on the new paper, agree: “While it is common
for individuals, especially women, to state that they avoid all alcohol
consumption because they ‘do not want to gain weight,’ data are very limited
on this subject.”
They cite studies that show heavy drinking is linked to weight gain but
regular drinking is not: “These results suggest that the frequent
consumption of small amounts of alcohol is the optimal drinking pattern
associated with a lower risk of obesity.”
Other research has suggested that moderate drinkers are at 30 per cent lower
risk of developing diabetes, and that even obese people should not abstain
from alcohol for this reason.
Moderate drinkers have also been found to be at between 16 per cent and 25 per
cent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which in turn makes them
more likely to have a stroke or coronary artery disease.
Research on the effects of alcohol on weight has also been complicated by the
fact that heavy drinkers have traditionally also smoked cigarettes, which
lower the risk of obesity.
Few studies have looked at diet, previous weight gain or loss or “binge
drinking” among subjects.