GIVING up alcohol is a key component of most diets - and one of the biggest sacrifices. But new research appears to confound the accepted view that drinking alcohol piles on the pounds. American scientists have found that a small group of women who drank around 10 units of alcohol a week (one unit is equivalent to a small glass of wine, half a pint of beer or a pub measure of spirits) weighed from 3kg to 4kg less than those who did not drink at all. Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the scientists suggest that alcohol has this effect by increasing the metabolic rate.