Page last updated: Monday, May 12, 2008
Abdominal Fat, Alcohol Drinking Pattern and Heart Disease Risk
Drinking pattern and beverage type can influence the risk of heart disease by affecting the accumulation of abdominal fat, a body characteristic shown to be an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases according to epidemiologists from the University at Buffalo.

The study, by Professor Dorn et al published in the Journal of Nutrition reports that men and women who drank infrequently but heavily had more abdominal fat or "central adiposity," as measured by abdominal height, than people who consumed the same amount but drank regularly.

The type of alcohol consumed appeared to contribute differently to the accumulation of abdominal fat. Wine drinkers showed the lowest abdominal height, while liquor drinkers had the highest. Beer as an alcohol source wasn’t associated with central adiposity. In addition, current drinkers, those who had consumed alcohol within the past 30 days, had lower abdominal height than both men and women abstainers.

Dorn conducted the study in 2,343 men and women selected aged 35 to 79 who had never been treated for heart disease so could serve as healthy controls in the Western New York Health Study, a series of case-control studies that examine alcohol drinking patterns and chronic disease risk.

Researchers collected information on alcohol consumption during the past 30 days, covering beverage type, total grams of alcohol, drinking intensity (number of drinks consumed per drinking day), drinking frequency and drinking with or without food. Categories of frequency were: lifetime abstainers, non-current drinkers (no alcohol for 30 days) and current drinkers. Other lifestyle habits-smoking, physical activity, diet, disease prevalence, prescriptiondrugusewere recorded. Analysis of the variables showed that small amounts of alcohol consumed on a regular basis were associated with the smallest abdominal heights, while participants who drank sporadically but intensely-more than 3-4 drinks per drinking occasion-had the highest measures. However, within all categories of drinking frequency, the number of drinks mattered. In both men and women,the more drinks per drinking day, the higher the abdominal measurement, results showed."These findings support what has been shown in other studies about the beneficial effect of moderate drinking on heart disease," said Dorn. "It also is more evidence that the way people drink is important, and not just the amount of alcohol consumed."

SOURCE: Dorn JM et al. Alcohol Drinking Patterns Differentially Affect Central Adiposity as Measured by Abdominal Height in Women &Men. J Nutr 2003;133:2655-62.

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