Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is red wine the new women's diet drink?

Why is it that we act so surprised when each new study showing that wine is a healthy drink comes out? This week it was a very large study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, showing that women who drink red wine are less likely to gain weight. To be fair, although there are several studies already pointing in that direction, this one adds heft to the data because of its size (nearly 20,000 women) and length of follow-up (nearly 13 years.) But if you have read my book or have been following my posts here, your response is more likely to be “well, duh.”


Here are the particulars: The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, identified a population of middle-aged women of normal weight and recorded their lifestyle habits as a baseline. Over the period of follow-up, some 42% became overweight and 4% obese, as determined by Body Mass Index. After statistically adjusting for factors such as exercise habits, smoking, and non-alcohol caloric intake, they found that moderate drinkers were much less likely to gain weight as compared to nondrinkers. The pattern was most dramatic for women who drank red wine.

We do know of course that people who drink red wine regularly and in moderation have other healthy habits, but a significant aspect of this study is that those factors were neutralized. There is clearly something more to the red wine connection than just being a marker for a better diet or regular exercise. This study doesn’t tell us what that might be, but we have some ideas, don’t we?

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