Women who are light to moderate alcohol drinkers may also enjoy the benefits of a trimmer waistline, according to a study published in the Archive of Internal Medicine and reported by HealthNews.

Although study findings showed red wine produced the best waist-whittling results, it also offered a toast to the weight maintenance benefits of white wine, beer and spirits.

For the study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston followed the alcohol consumption of 20,000 slim, middle aged and older women for an average of 13 years.

Scientists divided the women  into several groups: nondrinkers, those who consumed 5 grams daily, 5 to 15 grams daily, 15 to 30 grams daily and more than 30 grams daily.

Researchers found that although all the women gained weight, participants who consumed a moderate amount (5 to 30 grams) of alcohol gained less weight and were the least likely to become overweight compared with nondrinkers. (The results remained the same even after researchers accounted for the women’s lifestyles and diet.)

Even the women who drank the most alcohol each day (more than 30 grams) gained less than the nondrinkers—about 3.4 pounds compared with an average of 8 pounds for nondrinkers during the study.

In addition, women who consumed 15 to 30 grams of alcohol each day showed a 30 percent lower risk of obesity compared with nondrinking women.

Don’t rush to pour yourself a stiff one, however, researchers caution.

“Taking into account the potential medical and psychosocial problems related to drinking alcohol, any recommendation on alcohol use should be made for the individual after carefully evaluating both adverse and beneficial effects of the drinking behavior in broad context, ” researchers wrote.

JoAnn Manson, MD, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a coauthor of the study, added, “We certainly don’t want to encourage nondrinkers to adopt alcohol as a method for weight control, but we were surprised by the strength of the association.”

The authors said they need to do more research to determine just what the association is between alcohol drinking and weight.

One scientist speculated that it might likely be a combination of physiologic, metabolic and behavioral changes.

Read about the other health benefits of wine consumption here.