The Link Between Alcohol and Body Weight

Results from studies on alcohol intake and body weight are inconsistent.
To help clarify the association between alcohol use and waist-to-hip
ratio (WHR) and body mass index (BMI), researchers in France analyzed
data from 2323 adults, aged 35–60, who had
participated in a study of antioxidant supplementation. Analyses were
adjusted for age, smoking, physical activity, education, and calorie

Overall, the relationship between total alcohol consumption and WHR
was J-shaped*; those consuming 0–12 g (equal to 1
standard drink or less) per day had a lower ratio than did those who
drank more or abstained. The J-shaped relationship was also seen for
total alcohol consumption and BMI, but in men only. The J-shaped curves
were due primarily to wine intake. Those who consumed
0–100 g (up to 8 glasses) of wine per day had a lower
WHI than did those who drank more wine or no wine. The J-shaped
relationship was also seen for wine intake and BMI, but in men only.
Spirits consumption increased WHR and BMI in a linear fashion for both
men and women. Beer consumption did not significantly affect WHR or


This study showed a J-shaped association between measures of obesity
and alcohol—primarily wine—intake. Whether the favorable
effects of wine were due to polyphenols or to inadequate control of
confounding (e.g., lifestyle of wine drinkers versus beer drinkers) is
unclear. Therefore, recommending drinking to prevent obesity would be
premature. However, gaining a better understanding of how alcohol
consumption relates to obesity—an increasingly prevalent health
problem—is very important.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH

* Researchers determined that the curve was J-shaped by conclusions
drawn from regression equations.


Lukasiewicz E, Mennen LI, Bertrais S, et al. Alcohol intake in
relation to body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio: the importance of
type of alcoholic beverage. Public Health Nutr.


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