The drinking toast 'to your health' takes on new meaning after a medical study found that people who practice moderate alcohol consumption have a lower risk of obesity.
Past studies have shown that drinking alcohol in moderation can have positive health affects, such as decreasing blood pressure and warding off heart disease. Now a study by Dr. James Rohrer of the MAYO Clinic in the United States, suggests alcohol use may also affect obesity.
The study finds regular drinkers who consume one or two drinks a few times a week are less likely to be obese, compared with people who do not drink.
However, researchers report that having four or more drinks per day increases the risk of being obese by 46%.
Dr. Arthur Frank, director of the George Washington University weight management program in Washington D.C., says while elements of the study may be true, he would never promote drinking to someone who is trying to lose weight.
"We make a big mistake if we encourage people to drink, just for that protection, because the consequences of drinking are so devastating, that the potential benefit, which is small, probably real, is probably in cultural terms, too high a risk to take."
Dr. Frank also says that while people who are moderate drinkers may be slimmer, alcohol is still not nutritious.
"It represents excess calories and it represents calories which have no nutritional value at all, so it displaces high quality calories from your diet. The more you drink, the less of good, nutritious, wholesome foods you're getting."
There are better ways to control your weight than by consuming alcohol, including exercise and a healthy diet.
Some medical experts argue the study is not scientific, saying health-conscious individuals have a daily drink because of its publicized health benefits, and that those individuals likely take the same approach when it comes to their eating habits, so they don't struggle with obesity.