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Alcohol and weight is a subject relevant to millions of people who like to drink alcoholic beverages and who also either want to maintain or to lose body weight. It appears that drinking alcohol does not necessarily lead to weight gain. Most studies find no increase in body weight, some find an increase, and some find a small decrease among women who begin consuming alcohol [1](Colditz et al.; Hellerstedt et al.; Istvan et al.; Jequer; Kahn et al.; Klesges et al.; Landes; Liu et al.; Mannisto et al., 1996; Mannisto et al., 1997; Prentice; Arif & Rohrer, 2005). Some of these studies are very large; one involved nearly 80,000 and another included 140,000 subjects.

These findings are surprising because alcohol itself contains 7 calories per gram, and some alcoholic drinks also contain carbohydrates. The reason that alcohol may not increase weight is unclear, but research suggests that alcohol energy is not efficiently used. Alcohol also appears to increase metabolic rate significantly, thus causing more calories to be burned rather than stored in the body as fat (Klesges et al., 1994). Other research has found consumption of sugar to decrease as consumption of alcohol increases.

The research results do not necessarily mean that people who wish to lose weight should continue to consume alcohol. The relationship between alcohol and weight remains unresolved and will remain so until more research is conducted that can clarify any apparent discrepancies in findings.

See also


  1. Cordain, L;, Bryan, E D; Melby, C L; Smith, M J Influence of moderate daily wine consumption on body weight regulation and metabolism in healthy free-living males Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1997, Vol 16, Issue 2 134-139.
  • Arif, A. A. & Rohrer, J. E. Patterns of Alcohol Drinking and its Association with Obesity: Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. BMC Public Health, 2005 5 December), (5), 126.
  • Colditz, G., et al. Alcohol intake in relation to diet and obesity in women and men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1991, 54, 49-55.
  • Hellerstedt, W. L., et al. The association between alcohol intake and adiposity in the general population. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1990, 132(4), 594-611.
  • Istvan, J., et al. The relationship between patterns of alcohol consumption and body weight, International Journal of Epidemiology, 1995, 24(3), 543-546.
  • Jequier, E. Alcohol intake and body weight: a paradox. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999, 69, 173-174.
  • Kahn, H. S., et al. Stable behaviors associated with adults' 10-year change in body mass index and the likelihood of gain at the waist. American Journal of Public Health, 1997(5), 747-754.
  • Klesges, R. C., et al. Effects of alcohol intake on resting energy expenditure in young women social drinkers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1994, 59, 805-809.
  • Landis, W. E. M.. Alcohol and energy intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995, 62(suppl.), 11015-11068.
  • Liu, S., et al. A proscriptive study of alcohol intake and change in body weight among US adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1994, 140(10), 912-920.
  • Mannisto, S., et al. Alcohol beverage drinking, diet and body mass index in a cross-national survey, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1997, 151, 326-332.
  • Mannisto, E., et al. Reported alcohol intake, diet and body mass index in male smokers. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1996, 50, 239-245.
  • Prentice, A. M. Alcohol and obesity. International Journal of Obesity, 1995, 19(suppl. 5), S44-S50.

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