Patterns of alcohol drinking and its association with obesity: data from the third national health and nutrition examination survey, 1988-1994

Arif, Ahmed A.; Rohrer, James E.
January 2005
BMC Public Health;2005, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p126
Academic Journal
Background: Recent reports suggest that alcohol use may have a protective effect on obesity. This study explores association between obesity and alcohol consumption in the non-smoking U.S. adult population. Methods: We analyzed data on a total of 8,236 respondents who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Body mass index (weight-kg/height-m²) was derived from measured height and weight data and categorized into: normal weight, overweight, and obese. Alcohol consumption was measured using following measures: history of drinking, binge drinking, quantity of drinks/day, frequency of drinking, and average volume of drinks/week. Results: Mean body mass index in this sample of non-smokers was 26.4 (95% CI: 26.1, 26.7). Approximately 46% of respondents were classified as current drinkers. Current drinkers had lower odds of obesity (Adjusted odds ratio = 0.73, 95% CI: 0.55, 0.97) as compared to non-drinkers. The odds of overweight and obesity were significantly greater among binge drinkers and those consuming four or more drinks/day. However, those who reported drinking one or two drinks per day had 0.46 (95% CI: 0.34, 0.62) and 0.59 (95% CI: 0.41, 0.86) times the odds of obesity, respectively. Similarly, the odds of obesity were significantly lower among those who reported drinking frequently and consuming less than five drinks per week. The association between overweight and other alcohol measures was less pronounced. Conclusion: The results suggest further exploring the possible role of moderate alcohol drinking in controlling body weight in adults.


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