A wide variety of low-calorie beers and other alcoholic drinks are available in any grocery or liquor store. However, it is difficult to determine how much alcohol consumption affects the weight of those who drink it. If a person consumes just a few drinks now and then, they may wonder whether there is any benefit in choosing a lighter type of drink.
A recent publication from Spain is the result of an extensive review of the connection between alcohol consumption and weight. A gram of alcohol contains 7.1 kcal, indicating that someone who drinks heavily may experience a significant weight gain from their behaviors.
The review examined both cross-sectional and prospective studies, including studies with participants ranging in age from adolescence to advanced ages, across several cultures and both beverage type and pattern of alcohol consumption.
You Are What You Drink?
Based on their review, the authors concluded that alcohol generally leads to weight gain among those who consume it heavily. Positive associations were found between alcohol and weight gain in studies that examined higher levels of alcohol consumption.
The authors also believe that the study provides evidence for an additional association between the type of beverage consumed and weight gain. A connection was found between the drinking of wine and a resistance to weight gain.
The major conclusions gained from the review indicate that while it is unclear whether all alcohol consumption leads to potential weight gain, if there is an association it occurs among those who drink heavily. Also, the authors believe that in general light-to-moderate drinking, especially when the alcohol choice is wine, may be more likely to protect against weight gain, rather than lead to it.
Reviewers of the paper agreed with the general conclusions of the authors, though they stress that while data does not clearly indicate whether moderate drinking affects weight, the biological mechanisms related to alcohol consumption and body weight are not clearly understood.
The reviewers also noted that those who are obese may be able to lower their risk of diabetes with moderate drinking. They also found strong protective effects related to moderate drinking and its effects on the metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Future research may focus on the assessment of specific roles of different types of alcoholic beverages, with drinking patterns analyzed as part of the study. The reviewers note that at this point there is no evidence for an association between light-to-moderate drinking and the risk of becoming obese.