The NHS National Obesity Observatory have published a paper ‘Obesity and Alcohol – an overview’ which aims to summarise current understanding of the key issues related to obesity and alcohol in the following areas: Alcohol consumption and energy intake; Patterns and levels of drinking; Alcohol, obesity and liver cirrhosis; Alcohol dependency and obesity; Obesity, alcohol and gender.
Key points include
There is no clear causal relationship between alcohol consumption and obesity. However, there are associations between alcohol and obesity and these are heavily influenced by lifestyle, genetic and social factors
Many people are not aware of the calories contained in alcoholic drinks
The effects of alcohol on body weight may be more pronounced in overweight and obese people
Alcohol consumption can lead to an increase in food intake
Heavy, but less frequent drinkers seem to be at higher risk of obesity than moderate, frequent drinkers
The relationships between obesity and alcohol consumption differ between men and women
Excess body weight and alcohol consumption appear to act together to increase the risk of liver cirrhosis
There is emerging evidence of a link between familial risk of alcohol dependency and obesity in women.