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Heavy Drinking in Young Adulthood Increases Risk of Obesity

Add Health research featured in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine

 

Researchers used a subset of Add Health data to demonstrate a connection between heavy drinking in early adulthood and being overweight or obese later in life. The sample was narrowed down to include only those respondents who reported drinking once or more per month as well as drinking in excess of low-risk guidelines set by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which are defined as less than four drinks at one time for women, or less than five drinks at one time for men.

Results show that there is indeed a link between these two variables: Drinking heavily in early adulthood is linked to being overweight or obese later in life. The researchers propose that this could be caused by other outside variables; for example, in addition to the calories within alcohol itself, it could be that because alcohol lowers a person’s inhibitions, people are more likely to eat more unhealthy foods – or simply eat a higher amount of food – while drinking than they normally would. These findings suggest that weight gain prevention and interventions should address heavy alcohol use as a risk factor.

View the abstract or download the complete article from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

This article was featured in Women’s Health: The Truth About Alcohol And Weight Gain.

 

Authors:

  • Tera L. Fazzino, PhD: Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas
  • Kimberly Fleming, PhD: Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas; Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
  • Kenneth J. Sher, PhD: Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
  • Debra K. Sullivan, PhD: Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas
  • Christie Befort, PhD: Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas

 

Fazzino, T. L., Fleming, K., Sher, K. J., Sullivan, D. K, & Befort, C. (2017). Heavy drinking in young adulthood increases risk of transitioning to obesity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(2), 169–175.