In the 2007-08 NHS, information was collected about a person's alcohol consumption in the week prior to the survey. This was used to calculate levels of long term risk from alcohol consumption. The 2001 NHMRC guidelines for reducing health risks in the longer term from alcohol limit consumption to four standard drinks a day for men and two standard drinks a day for women(footnote 1) .
People who drank at risky or high risk levels had similar rates of overweight and obesity as those who drank at low risk levels.
There was a relationship, however, between whether a person had ever consumed alcohol and the likelihood of being obese. This followed different patterns for men and women, which may be due in part to gender-specific differences in the consumption and metabolism of alcohol.
Men who drank at low risk (25%) and risky or high risk levels (28%) were more likely to be obese than men who had never had an alcoholic drink (19%). On the other hand, women who drank at low risk (21%) and risky or high risk levels (18%) were less likely to be obese than women who had never consumed alcohol (27%). Studies show that male drinkers tend to add alcohol to their dietary intake, while female drinkers substitute alcohol for other foods without increasing total energy intake; and metabolic studies showed that energy expenditure after drinking alcohol was higher for men than for women(footnote 2) .
1 National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines. Available from http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/file/publications/synopses/ds10-alcoholqa.pdf <back
2 Wang, L., Lee, I-M., Manson, J., Buring, J. and Sesso, H., Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010;170(5):453-461. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2837522/pdf/nihms157983.pdf <back
This page last updated 31 May 2011