CLEVELAND – Sometimes, despite our best efforts, losing weight can be a real challenge.

But can our alcohol habits make an impact on the number on the scale?

A recent study looked at how our relationship with alcohol might be associated with obesity.

The study looked at results from adult men and women who took part in a national nutrition survey.

Researchers compared data regarding the participants’ alcohol use within the past year, their current weight status, and whether they were attempting to lose weight.

“For both men and women, the individuals who drink more frequently, actually had lower rates of obesity,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Leslie Heinberg, Ph.D., who did not take part in the study. “However, the results showed, for women, heavier drinking, or engaging in more binge drinking, was associated with an increased risk of obesity.”

Women who participated in binge drinking were not only more likely to be obese, but were also more likely to be attempting weight loss.

When we’re trying to lose weight, Dr. Heinberg said it’s a good idea to take a look at our alcohol habits.

She said alcohol has calories, and depending on what we’re drinking, the amount of calories could be excessive.

Dr. Heinberg reminds us alcohol also impairs our judgment.

We could go out to eat, with the best intentions for making healthy choices, but once we’ve had a cocktail, we might be inclined to go for a deep-fried appetizer instead of vegetables.

“Across the board, for people who are trying to lose some weight, cutting out empty calories is a good place to start,” said Dr. Heinberg. “Often times, beverages are a big source of empty calories – whether it’s soda, whether it’s juice, whether it’s sweet tea, or whether it’s beer, wine, and cocktails – any of those things add calories, but really without nutrition and without the sense of feeling full.” 

Dr. Heinberg also said it’s a good idea to develop healthy habits when it comes to drinking alcohol early on in adulthood, because binge drinking at any age is likely to set us up for health problems down the road.

Complete results of the study can be found in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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