It sounds like another diet gimmick or some alcoholic’s wishful denial, but a new book by science writer Tony Edwards, compiling and analyzing a “wealth of medical evidence” claims that drinking alcohol does not make you fat; on the contrary, alcohol can actually help you lose weight.
Anyone who’s anyone has been told that due to a high calorie content, alcoholic beverages like wine and beer tend to pack on the pounds, a side effect of drinking which most nutritionists had come to a consensus. Countless studies and media driven reports attest to the common belief- The National Health Service in England says that one glass of wine has as many calories as a slice of cake. The British Nutrition Foundation says that two pints of beer is equivalent to the amount of calories in a full glass of single cream.
Yet according to this new study, over 50 years of research have been debunked in favor of the new theory that alcohol is actually good for your health in certain qualities, and in many cases can actually help you lose weight.
The book draws on studies conducted by Professor Charles S. Lieber of Harvard University, the first to publish a scientific journal on alcohol. He is the man accredited with being the first to establish the link between alcohol and liver disease in the 1970’s.
Despite Charles Lieber’s findings on the negative side effects of alcohol consumption, Lieber disputed his own theories on alcohol when in 1991 he rejected the common belief that alcohol contributes to weight gain.
His direct study on the correlation between weight gain and alcohol consumption began in the nineties, when Lieber and a team of researchers tracked over 20,000 middle-aged women, observing their drinking habits and weight over a 13 year period.
In the final months of the study, about 9,000 of the women were found to have gained “significant” amounts of weight, some even becoming obese. Those who gained the weight were majority non-heavy drinkers, while those who remained skinny were amongst the heaviest of drinkers.
The study showed that women who drank five grams of alcohol a day were at a 4% less of a risk of becoming overweight, while those who drank 15 grams a day, equivalent to a medium glass of wine, had their risk of weight gain cut by 14 percent.
Much to the surprise of researchers, the risk of obesity dropped dramatically by a staggering 70% when the amount of alcohol consumed was doubled to 30 grams a day- a 56% drop from those who drank only one glass (15 grams) of wine a day.
The studies pointed researchers to an area of science previously undisputed. The findings launched a series of other studies into the correlation between weight gain and alcohol.
In the past 25 years other independent studies have concluded similar results. Here are just 3 examples.
– A six-year study by the University of Denmark observed 43,500 people, and found that those who drank infrequently ended up gaining weight while daily drinkers had the least amount of weight gain.
– An eight-year study of 49,3000 women by the University College Medical School in London found that women who drank less two glasses of wine a day were 24% less likely to gain weight.
– A ten-year study of 7,230 people by the U.S. National Center for Disease Control found that alcohol consumption did not increase the risk of obesity.
But just because this new study shows alcohol can help you lose weight doesn’t mean you should be expecting your doctor to suggest a daily two wine drink minimum to help shed the pounds. The science isn’t quite conclusive and fails to address other variables such as personal fitness, economic class and education.
So does alcohol make you fat? New evidence points to an reassuringly confident “probably not.” Just keep in mind, everyone’s body reacts to certain diets differently, and the choices you make for your health are best when decided by you. Cheers to that.
by John Amaruso