Objective: To examine prospectively the relationship between alcohol and 8-year weight gain in women.
Research methods and procedures: A prospective study of 49,324 women 27 to 44 years old who did not have a history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes, who were not pregnant during the study period, and who reported weights in 1991 and 1999.
Results: In cross-sectional analyses, there was a significant inverse relationship between alcohol and BMI even after adjustment for dietary factors and a wide range of confounders. In multivariate prospective analyses, a nonlinear relationship was seen between alcohol and weight gain (>or=5 kg) in all women. Compared with nondrinkers, the adjusted relative odds [95% confidence interval (CI)] of weight gain according to grams per day were 0.94 (0.89, 0.99) for those consuming 0.1 to 4.9 g/d, 0.92 (0.85,0.99) for 5 to 14.9 g/d, 0.86 (0.76, 0.78) for 15 to 29.9 g/d, and 1.07 (0.89,1.28) for those consuming 30+ g/d (p < 0.0001 for quadratic trend). Women who continued to drink heavily and those who became heavy drinkers showed similar increased odds of weight gain. The increased odds of weight gain associated with heavy drinking (30+ g/d) were most marked in the younger women (<35 years) (odds ratio 1.64; 5% CI 1.03 to 2.61). In African-American women, light drinking was associated with increased odds of weight gain compared with nondrinkers (odds ratio = 2.43; 95% CI 1.22 to 4.82).
Discussion: Our data suggest that light to moderate drinking (up to 30 g/d) is not associated with weight gain in women except possibly in African-American women. Heavier drinking may promote weight gain in women.