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

C. A. Thomson, B. C. Wertheim, M. Hingle, L. Wang, M. L. Neuhouser, Z. Gong, L. Garcia, M. L. Stefanick, J. E. Manson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


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 (22.81.58 kg m-2) and alcohol consumers in the upper quintile (22.71.53 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1158-1164
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • alcohol
  • body mass index
  • body weight
  • overweight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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