Page last updated: January 14, 2013
Obesity may reduce the protective effect of moderate drinking in older adults

An analysis published in The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health suggests that obesity may reduce the positive effect of moderate drinking in older adults. Using data from the Framingham Heart Study the authors separated more adipose adults from less adipose adults using Body Mass Index (BMI >27.5 kg/m2 versus BMI <25 kg/m2) and waist circumference (WC >102 cm for men and >88 cm for women, versus <94 cm for men and <80 cm for women). They eliminated records indicating pre-existing heart disease. Death due to coronary heart disease was noted over the following 50 years.

The analysis shows the relative risks for CHD death for different levels of alcohol intake compared with abstinence, for the 2,603 adults with available BMI data. The smoothed curves (polynomial second order)

indicate the expected dip in relative risk for those adults with lower BMIs, at moderate levels of alcohol intake. However, the dip appears to be reduced for higher BMI adults, with lowest risk at intake levels between 10 mL and 30 mL alcohol per week (about one large glass of wine or one pint of lager). Point estimates show a significant difference between the BMI groups at levels of alcohol intake of 80-120 mL per week, and suggest no health benefit for overweight adults from drinking more than three glasses of wine or pints of lager per week.

For waist circumference, the researchers found the expected dip at low levels of intake for adults with low WC, but the dip was entirely absent for adults with high WCs.

The researchers state that these preliminary findings need to be adjusted for possible confounding factors, and need to be validated using other longitudinal cohorts.

Source: Alcohol: No cardio-protective benefit for overweight adults? Tim Lobstein, Mike Daube. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2012 vol. 36 no. 6.

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