Alcohol consumption and body weight change in postmenopausal women: results from the Women's Health Initiative.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


International journal of obesity (2005) (2012)


July 2012, Public Health Sciences Division


Objective:To determine whether alcohol consumption is associated with incident overweight or obesity in normal-weight, postmenopausal women.Design:Prospective cohort study considering baseline alcohol consumption and subsequent weight change over 7 years.Subjects:15 920 normal-weight (body mass index (BMI): 18.5 to <25 kg m(-2)), postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Clinical Trial.Measurements:Body weight change, and incident overweight and obesity (BMI, 25.0 to <30 and 30 kg m(-2)) over 7 years.Results:One-third of the 13 822 women included in the analytical cohort reported no alcohol consumption. BMI differed little between abstainers (22.8±1.58 kg m(-2)) and alcohol consumers in the upper quintile (22.7±1.53 kg m(-2)). Among normal-weight women, the risk of becoming overweight or obese over a 7-year follow-up period was 35% or 88% lower, respectively, for women in the upper quintile of alcohol intake relative to abstainers (hazard ratio (HR), 0.65; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.58-0.73; or HR, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.05-0.25, respectively). Risk for overweight and obesity was not significantly modified by age. Wine consumption showed the greatest protective association for risk of overweight (HR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.68-0.84), followed by liquor (HR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.78-0.93) and beer (HR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.82-1.00).Conclusion:Postmenopausal women of normal weight who report moderate alcohol intake have a reduced risk of becoming overweight or obese over time. Perhaps, weight control measures in this population should target behaviors other than reduction in alcohol for those of normal BMI consuming moderate amounts.International Journal of Obesity advance online publication, 12 June 2012; doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.84.